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THE SCOTT LIBRARY. 



CHESTERFIELD'S LETTERS. 




OCT - 5 < 



FOR FULL LIST OF THE VOLUMES IN THIS SERIES, 
SEE CATALOGUE AT END OF BOOK. 



LETTERS WRITTEN BY LORD 
CHESTERFIELD TO HIS SON. 
SELECTED BY CHARLES SAYLE. 



THE WALTER SCOTT PUBLISHING CO., LTD. 

LONDON AND FELLING-ON-TYNE. 

NEW YORK: j EAST i 4 TH STREET. 



LORD CHESTERFIELD. 

Born ...,., 1694 

Goes to Cambridge ...... 1712 

Goes abroad ....... 1714 

Gentleman of the Bed-chamber to the Prince of Wales . 1715 

M. P. for S. Ger mains ...... 1715 

Votes for the Schism Bill . . . . . 1718 

Cap tain of the Yeoman of the Guards .... 1723 

Refuses the Red Ribbon ..... 1725 

Becomes Earl of Chesterfield . . . . .1726 

Sent as Ambassador to Holland .... 1728 

High Steward of His Majesty's Household . . . 1730 
Philip Stanhope born . .1731 

Married . 1733 

Dismissed . . - 1733 

Goes abroad for a year ...... 1741 

Ambassador to Holland . 1745 

Lord Lieutenant of Ireland . 1745 

Retires . ..... 1748 

Reforms the Calendar . . , . . '.1751 

Becomes deaf ...... 1752 

Philip Stanhope, M.P. for Liskeard 1754 

Philip Stanhope at Ratisbon , 1763 

Philip Stanhope envoy at Dresden . 1764 

Philip Stanhope dies . ' t> 1768 

Dies ' 1773 



He who intends t' advise the young and gay, 
Must quit the common road the former way 
Which hum drum pedants take to make folks wise, 
By praising virtue, and decrying vice. 
Let Parsons tell what dreadful ills will fall 
On such as listen when their passions call : 
We, from such things our pupils to affright, 
8ay not they're sins, but that they're unpolite." 

[Lieut.-Col. JAMEP FOBHESTER.] 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



IT is a singular fate that has overtaken Lord Chesterfield. 
One of the more important figures in the political 
world of his time; one of the few Lord-Lieutenants 
of Ireland whose name was afterwards respected and 
admired ; the first man to introduce Voltaire and Montes- 
quieu to England; and the personal acquaintance of men 
like Addison and Swift, Pope and Bolingbroke ; the ally of 
Pitt, and the enemy of three Georges ; though he married a 
king's daughter and took up the task of the world's greatest 
emperor : yet the record of his actions has passed away, and 
he is remembered now only by an accident. 

Lord Chesterfield lives by that which he never intended 
for publication, while that which he published has already 
passed from the thoughts of men. It is one more example 
of the fact that our best work is that which is our heart's 
production. We have Lord Chesterfield's secret, and it 
bears witness to the strength of that part of him in which 
an intellectual anatomist has declared him to be deficient 
a criticism which is but another proof of that which has 
been somewhere said of him, that he has had the fate to be 
generally misunderstood. Yet nothing is more certain than 
that Lord Chesterfield did not mean to be anything but 
inscrutable. " Dissimilation is a shield," he used to say, 
"as secrecy is armour." "A young fellow ought to be 
wiser than he should seem to be, and an old fellow ought to 



viii PREFATOR Y NOTE. 

seem wise whether he really be so or not." It is still worth 
while attempting to solve the problem which is offered 
to us by his inscrutability, not only on its own account, but 
because Lord Chesterfield is a representative spirit of the 
eighteenth century. * 



Philip Dormer Stanhope did not experience in his youth 
either of those influences which are so important in the lives 
of most of us. His mother died before he could know her, 
and his father was one of those living nonentities whom his 
biographer sums up in saying that ' We know little more of 
him than that he was an Earl of Chesterfield.' Indeed, 
what influence there may have been was of a negative 
kind, for he had, if anything, an avowed dislike for his son. 
Naturally under these conditions he had to endure the 
slings and arrows of fortune alone and uncounselled. One 
domestic influence was allowed him in the mother of his 
mother, whose face still looks out at us from the pages of 
Dr. Maty, engraved by Bartolozzi from the original of Sir 
Peter Lely a face sweet, intellectual, open over the title 
of Gertrude Savile, Marchioness of Halifax. She it was 
who undertook, at any rate to some small degree, the 
rearing of her daughter's child Lord Chesterfield is rather 
a Savile than a Stanhope. 

He heard French from a Normandy nurse in his cradle, 
and he received, when he grew a little older, "such a 

* The greatest English writer of the present day thus sums up the 
eighteenth century : " An age of which Hoadly was the bishop, and 
Walpole the minister, and Pope the poet, and Chesterfield the wit, and 
Tillotson the ruling doctor." Newman, Essays Critical and Historical^ 
i. 388. 



PREFATORY NOTE. in 

general idea of the sciences as it is a disgrace to a gentleman 
not to possess." But it is not till he gets to Cambridge 
at the age of eighteen that we hear anything definite. He 
writes to his tutor of former days, whom he seems to have 
made a real friend, from Trinity Hall : 

"I find the college where I am infinitely the best in the 
University ; for it is the smallest, and filled with lawyers who 
have lived in the world, and know how to behave. Whatever 
may be said to the contrary, there is certainly very little 
debauchery in the university, especially amongst people of 
fashion, for a man must have the inclinations of a porter to 
endure it here." 

Thirty-six years later he draws for his son this picture of 
his college-life : 

'* As I make no difficulty of confessing my past errors, where 
I think the confession may be of use to you, I will own that, 
when I first went to the university, I drank and smoked, 
notwithstanding the aversion I had to wine and tobacco, only 
because I thought it genteel, and that it made me look a man." 

This touch of nature it is interesting to find in one who 
gave so much to the Graces. But to get at what he really 
did we may take the following : 

" It is now, Sir, I have a great deal of business upon my 
hands j for I spend an hour every day in studying civil law, 
and as much in philosophy ; and next week the blind man [Dr. 
Sanderson] begins his lectures upon the mathematics ; so that 
I am now fully employed. Would you believe, too, that I read 
Lucian and Xenophon in Greek, which is made easy to me ; 
for I do not take the pains to learn the grammatical rules ; but 
the gentleman who is with me, and who is a living grammar, 
teaches me them all as I go along. I reserve time for playing 
at tennis, for I wish to have the corpus sanum as well as the 
mens sana : I think the one is not good for much without the 
other. As for anatomy, I shall not have an opportunity of 



x PREFATORY NOTE. 

learning it ; for though a poor man has been hanged, the 
surgeon who used to perform those operations would not this 
year give any lectures, because, he says, . . . the scholars 
will not come. 

" Methinks our affairs are in a very bad way, but as I 
cannot mend them, I meddle very little in politics ; only I 
take a pleasure in going sometimes to the coffee house to 
see the pitched battles that are fought between the heroes of 
each party with inconceivable bravery, and are usually ter- 
minated by the total defeat of a few tea-cups on both sides."* 

He only stayed in Cambridge two years, and then 
travelled abroad to Flanders and Holland. He had just 
left the Hague when the news reached him across the 
water which only then was not stale Queen Anne was 
dead. 

It was the turning-point of his career, for his great- 
uncle, who had influence and position at the court, 
obtained for him from George I. the post of Gentleman 
of the Bed-chamber to the Prince of Wales. At the 
same time he obtained a pocket-borough in Cornwall, 
and appeared in the House of Commons. He was not 
yet of age, of which fact a friend in the opposition politely 
and quietly informed him after he had made his first 
speech. He was, therefore, not only debarred from voting, 
but liable to a fine of ^500. He made a low bow, left 
the House, and posted straightway to Paris. 

He was not there long. Advancing months soon 
removed the objection of age, and we find him again 
frequently in the House. His position on the Schism 
and Occasional Conformity Bills was one which he him- 
self in after years regretted. He was still, however, 

* For another, very different, view of the life and studies at 
Cambridge at the time, see the Life of Ambrose Bonwicke (1694-1714). 



PREFATORY NOTE. xi 

swimming with the stream, and the stream led on to 
fortune. In 1723 he was made Captain of the Yeomen 
of the Guards, and two years later, when the Order of the 
Bath was revived, was offered by the king the red ribbon. 
But this he refused; and not contented with so much 
discourtesy, objected to others accepting it He wrote a 
ballad on Sir William Morgan, who had received the 
same offer. The ballad came to the ears of the king; 
and for this, or for other reasons, Stanhope the courtier 
lost his place. 

At this juncture two changes took place, to him of 
equal importance. George I. died and brought Stanhope's 
former master to the throne; and Lord Chesterfield died, 
leaving his son his title. The latter event raised him to 
the House of Lords the ^Hospital for Incurables, as 
Lord Chesterfield calls it. The former should have 
raised him to higher office still; but that policy of 
scheming for which Lord Chesterfield has become almost 
as famous as Macchiavelli in this case played him false. 
Believing that where marriage begins, love, as a necessary 
consequence, ends, he had paid all his attentions to the 
new king's mistress, while he was still Prince of Wales, 
and none to his queen. And Caroline of Anspach took 
precaution that when George II. came to the throne the 
courtier's negligence should be treated as it deserved. 
Thus at the age of thirty-three, while still a young man, 
Chesterfield was cut off from the Court: and he was 
already in opposition to Walpole. The King as a subter- 
fuge offered him the post of Ambassador to Holland, 
and the offended courtier was thus removed. But 
political events were moving rapidly, and in two years' 
time it was rumoured that Chesterfield would be reinstated 
in favour. The King, however, was still obdurate, and 



xii PREFATORY NOTE. 

instead of Secretary of State he was made High Steward 
of the Household. Chesterfield remained in Holland, 
gambling, and watching events. "I find treating with 
two hundred sovereigns of different tempers and pro- 
fessions," he writes, "is as laborious as treating with one 
fine woman, who is at least of two hundred minds in 
one day." 

The game went on for a year more. Then he was by 
his own wish recalled. On the 2nd of May of this same 
year he was presented with a son by a Mme. Du JBouchet. 
"A beautiful young lady at the Hague," says one writer, 
"set her wits against his and suffered the usual penalty; 
she fell, and this son was the result." This son was 
the object of all Lord Chesterfield's care and affectidh. 
It was to him that his now famous letters were written. 
The father we find, on his return to England, in the House 
talking indefatigably as ever. It was the year of Walpole's 
Excise Bill which was to have freed the country by changing 
the system of taxation from direct to indirect methods. It 
was a good measure and a just one. Every part of 
Walpole's scheme has been since carried into effect. But 
then there was a general cry raised against it. The liberties 
of the people, it was said, were being attacked. Chester- 
field, with the rest of the Patriots, and with the country 
behind them, fought hard, and the Bill was dropped 
(nth April 1731). Two days afterwards, going up the 
steps of S. James's Palace, he was stopped by a servant 
in the livery of the Duke of Grafton, who told him that 
his master must see him immediately. He drove off at 
once in the Duke's carriage, and found that he was to 
surrender the White Staff. He demanded an audience at 
Court, obtained it, and was snubbed. Of course he left it 
immediately. 



PREFATORY NOTE. xiii 

We could have wished perhaps that Lord Chesterfield's 
affection and character had prevented him from falling 
especially so soon after the affair at the Hague into so 
unpraiseworthy an undertaking as a manage de con- 
venance. Yet whether it was to spite his royal enemy, 
or because in financial difficulties he remembered the 
existence of the will of George I. or even from love ; at 
any rate in the following year he married, in lawful wedlock, 
Melusina de Schulenberg, whom, though merely the 
" niece " of the Duchess of Kendale, George the First had 
thought fit to create Lady Walsingham and the possessor 
by his will of ,2 0,000. Scandal or truth has been very 
busy about the relationship of Lady Walsingham and her 
aunt. Posterity openly declares her to have been the 
daughter of that lady by a royal sire. But good Dr. Maty, 
as though by the quantity of his information, wishing to 
override its quality, tells us that her father was none other 
than one "Frederick Achatz de Schulenburg, privy 
counsellor to the Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburg, Lord of 
Stehler, Bezendorff, Angern," etc. But we may well 
remember Lord Chesterfield's own words here: "It is a 
happy phrase that a lady has presented her husband with a 
son, for this does not admit anything of its parentage." 
Anyhow Lord Chesterfield lost the money, for George the 
Second, on being shown his father's will by the Archbishop 
of Canterbury, put it in his pocket and walked hastily out 
of the room. It never was seen again. 

But to have quarrelled with George II. had one recom- 
mendation. It made him a friend of the Prince of Wales. 
No sooner was Lord Chesterfield married than the Prince 
and Princess sent round their cards, and the rest of their 
Court, of course, followed them. It seems to have been 
Lord Chesterfield's fate to be opposed to the reigning 



xiv PREFATORY NOTE. 

power. His opposition now, however, was quite spon- 
taneous. 

We need not follow him through all the political entangle- 
ments of the time. Smollett said of him that he was the 
only man of genius employed under Walpole, and though 
history has hardly justified such praise, yet it certainly 
illustrates a truth. We may take his speech in 1737 against 
the Playhouse Bill as a sample of his oratory. I borrow 
from Lord Mahon : 

* [The speech] contains many eloquent predictions, that, 
should the Bill be enacted, the ruin of liberty and the 
introduction of despotism would inevitably follow. Yet 
even Chesterfield owns that "he has observed of late a 
remarkable licentiousness in the stage. In one play very 
lately acted (Pasquin*) the author thought fit to represent 
the three great professions, religion, physic, and law as 
inconsistent with common sense ; in another (King Charles 
the Firstf), a most tragical story was brought upon the 
stage, a catastrophe too recent, too melancholy, and of too 
solemn a nature, to be heard of anywhere but from the 
pulpit. How these pieces came to pass unpunished, I do 
not know. . . . The Bill, my Lords, may seem to be 
designed only against the stage ; but to me it plainly 
appears to point somewhere else. It is an arrow that 
does but glance upon the stage : the mortal wound seems 
designed against the liberty of the press. By this Bill 
you prevent a play's being acted, but you do not pre- 
vent it being printed. Therefore if a licence should 
be refused for its being acted, we may depend upon 
it the play will be printed. It will be printed and 

* [" Pasquin. A Dramatic Satire on the Times, by Henry Field- 
ing. Acted at the Hay market, 1736; 1740." (Baker.).] 

t [" King Charles /. Hist. Tr. by W. Havard, 1737." (Ibid.).] 



PREFATORY NOTE. XT 

published, my Lords, with the refusal, in capital letters, 
upon the title-page. People are always fond of what is for- 
bidden. Libri prohibiti are, in all countries, diligently and 
generally sought after. It will be much easier to procure a 
refusal than it ever was to procure a good house or a good 
sale ; therefore we may expect that plays will be wrote on 
purpose to have a refusal : this will certainly procure a 
good house or a good sale. Thus will satires be spread 
and dispersed through the whole nation ; and thus every 
man in the kingdom may, and probably will, read for 
sixpence what a few only could have seen acted for half 
a crown. We shall then be told, What ! will you allow 
an infamous libel to be printed and dispersed, which you 
will not allow to be acted ? If we agree to the Bill now 
before us, we must, perhaps, next session, agree to a Bill 
for preventing any plays being printed without a licence. 
Then satires will be wrote by way of novels, secret histories, 
dialogues, or under some such title; and thereupon we 
shall be told, What ! will you allow an infamous libel to be 
printed and dispersed, only because it does not bear the 
title of a play? Thus, my Lords, from the precedent now 
before us, we shall be induced, nay, we can find no reason 
for refusing, to lay the press under a general licence, and 
then we may bid adieu to the liberties of Great Britain." ' * 
Of course it is impossible from single passages, even perhaps 
from single speeches, to infer that he was ever a great 
orator, but Horace Walpole has declared one of his 
speeches the finest that he had ever listened to, and, as 
Lord Mahon justly observes, " Horace Walpole had heard 
his own father ; had heard Pitt ; had heard Pulteney ; had 

* Chesterfield says he had been accustomed to read and translate 
the great masterpieces to improve and form his style. His indebted- 
ness to Milton in his Arcopagitica in the above passage is obvious. 



xvi PREFATORY NOTE. 

heard Windham; had heard Carteret; yet he declares in 
1743 that the finest speech he had ever listened to was one 
from Lord Chesterfield." 

He was, with the other 'Patriots,' in clamouring for war 
with Spain, pursuing Walpole with an opposition which 
has been characterised as "more factious and unprincipled 
than any that had ever disgraced English politics " (Green). 
In 1739, it will be remembered, Walpole bowed to the 
storm. The following extract from An Ode to a Number 
of Great Men^ published in 1742, will show underneath 
its virulence who were expected to take the lead : 

" But first to C[arteret] fain you'd sing, 
Indeed he's nearest to the king, 

Yet careless how to use him, 
Give him, I beg, no labour'd lays, 
He will but promise if you praise, 

And laugh if you abuse him. 

" Then (but there's a vast space betwixt) 
The new-made E[arl] of B[ath] comes next, 

Stiff in his popular pride : 
His step, his gait describe the man, 
They paint him better than I can, 

Wabbling from side to side. 

" Each hour a different face he wears, 
Now in a fury, now in tears, 

Now laughing, now in sorrow, 
Now he'll command, and now obey, 
Bellows for liberty to-day, 

And roars for power to-morrow. 

" At noon the Tories had him tight, 
With staunchest Whigs he supped at night, 

Each party thought to have won him : 
But he himself did so divide, 
Shuffled and cut from side to side, 

That now both parties shun him. 



PR EFA TOR Y NOTE. xvii 



" More changes, better times this isle 
Demands, oh ! Chesterfield, Argyll, 

To bleeding Britain bring 'em ; 
Unite all hearts, appease each storm, 
'Tis yours such actions to perform, 

My pride shall be to sing 'em." 

Affairs in Holland again compelled him to seek that 
Court, and it is thence that he was summoned to Ireland in 
1744. "Make Chenevix an Irish Bishop," he had written. 
"We cannot," was the reply, "but any other condition." 
" Then make me Lord-Lieutenant," he wrote back. They 
took him at his word, and Chenevix soon obtained his 
place. 

Chesterfield had always looked forward to the post 
with longing. " I would rather be called the Irish Lord- 
Lieutenant," he had said, "than go down to Posterity as 
the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland." It was, as has been truly 
observed, the most brilliant and useful part of his career. 
I shall be pardoned for quoting again from Mahon. " It 
was he who first, since the revolution, had made that office 
a post of active exertion. Only a few years before the 
Earl of Shrewsbury had given as a reason for accepting 
it, that it was a place where a man had business enough 
to hinder him from falling asleep, and not enough to keep 
him awake. Chesterfield, on the contrary, left nothing 
undone nor for others to do. ... [He] was the first to 
introduce in Dublin the principle of impartial justice. It 
is very easy, as was formerly the case, to chose the great 
Protestant families as managers ; to see only through their 
eyes, and to hear only through their ears ; it is very easy, 
according to the modern fashion, to become the tool and 
the champion of Roman Catholic agitators; but to hold 

2 



xviii PREFATORY NOTE. 

the balance even between both : to protect the Establish- 
ment, yet never wound religious liberty; to repress the 
lawlessness, yet not chill the affection of that turbulent 
but warm-hearted people ; to be the arbiter, not the slave 
of parties; this is the true object worthy that a states- 
man should strive for, and fit only for the ablest to attain ! 
'I came determined,' writes Chesterfield many years after- 
wards, 'to proscribe no set of persons whatever; and 
determined to be governed by none. Had the Papists 
made any attempt to put themselves above the law, I should 
have taken good care to have quelled them again. It was 
said that my lenity to the Papists had wrought no alteration, 
either in their religion or political sentiments. I did not 
expect that it would : but surely there was no reason of 
cruelty towards them.' ... So able were the measures of 
Chesterfield; so clearly did he impress upon the public 
mind that his moderation was not weakness, nor his 
clemency cowardice, but that, to quote his own words, 
'his hand should be as heavy as Cromwell's upon them 
if they once forced him to raise it.' So well did he know 
how to scare the timid, while conciliating the generous, 
that this alarming period [1745] passed over with a degree 
of tranquillity such as Ireland has not often displayed even 
in orderly and settled times. This just and wise wise 
because just administration has not failed to reward him 
with its meed of fame ; his authority has, I find, been 
appealed to even by those who, as I conceive, depart 
most widely from his maxims ; and his name, I am assured, 
lives in the honoured remembrance of the Irish people, as 
perhaps, next to Ormond, the best and worthiest in their 
long Viceregal line." 

We know that it was a complete success, so far as it 
went. But he held the post only for four years. He had 



PREFATORY NOTE. xix 

held the highest offices, he had attained his highest wishes : 
yet his membership in the Cabinet had been made nominal 
rather than real, and his power was ever controlled by the 
hand of the king. Nowhere, in whatever direction he 
might care to turn his eyes along the political landscape, 
could he see anything but what was rotten and revolting. 
In 1748 he retired. 

We cannot call his political career an unsuccessful one. 
It was probably as brilliant as it was possible for a man 
of his parts to enjoy. He was a good talker and an 
incomparable ambassador. His action in Holland had 
permanent influence on the politics of Europe. But 
indeed, if he had been freed from the opposition of a 
profligate Court and all that it entailed; if, as has been 
implied by some, he would have been a greater man had 
not the death of his father driven him into the House 
of Lords; if he would then have risen to be anything 
greater than a second-rate Minister: this we may doubt. 
Yet we are not entitled to draw an estimate of his character 
before we have studied its other side. 

Chesterfield did not entirely give up attendance or even 
speaking at the House, but his energies henceforward 
were devoted to literary rather than political matters. One 
further act he performed before he left for good; he 
carried out three years later the reform of the English 
Calendar, an account of which he gives in one of his letters, 
and I cannot equal his words.* This was the last important 
public event in his life. Next year he was attacked with 
deafness, which incapacitated him of necessity from affairs. 
It does not seem that he was ever very sorry to leave 
them. Ever and anon the old political fire breaks out, 
and we find him keeping an observant eye on the course 
* Sec Letter CCXV., also CCXII. 



xx PREFATORY NOTE. 

of events. But he was thoroughly despondent of the 
prestige and ascendancy of England by the time of the 
outbreak of the Seven Years' War. " Nation ! " he had 
cried, " we are no longer a nation." We find him 
sympathising with Wilkes, and to the end on the side of 
Pitt. But about 1765 his letters begin to bear the mark 
of decrepitude, and his brains to be unable to cope with 
the situations that arose. 

" I see and hear these storms from shore, suave man magno^ 
&*c. I enjoy my own security and tranquillity, together with 
better health than I have reason to expect at my age and with 
my constitution : however I feel a gradual decay, though a 
gentle one ; and I think I shall not tumble, but slide gently to 
the bottom of the hill of life. When that will be I neither know 
nor care, for I am very weary." 

And in the following August, anticipating alike the autumn 
of his life and of the year, he writes : 

" 1 feel this beginning of the autumn, which is already 
very cold; the leaves are withered, fall apace, and seem to 
intimate that I must follow them, which I shall do without 
reluctance, being extremely weary of this silly world." (Letter 
CCCLV.) 

Yet even a year later we find him giving dinner parties 
to the Duke of Brunswick, and wishing that he had both 
the monarchs of Austria and Prussia, that they should, 
"together with some of their allies, take Lorraine and 
Alsace from France." (Letter CCCLXIV.) For a few 
more years he lingered on, gardening, reading, and writing, 
and then in 1773, almost alone, he parted with "this silly 
world." 



PREFATORY NOTE. xxi 

ii. 

I have omitted from this sketch of Lord Chesterfield's 
political life any reference to the literary side of his 
character. I have, however, spoken of his friendship with 
Voltaire. Voltaire came to England in the same year that 
Chesterfield's father died, to obtain, among other things, 
a publisher for the Henriade. Chesterfield and Bolingbroke 
at once took him up and introduced him into high places.* 
Voltaire never forgot him nor the services which he had 
rendered; and one of the most charming lights thrown 
upon the end of Lord Chesterfield's career is in a letter 
from the old sage of Ferney to his friend of younger days, 
now grown old as himself. Chesterfield was always a great 
admirer of Voltaire's, though by no means a blind one : 

" I strongly doubt," he writes, " whether it is permissible for 
a man to write against the worship and belief of his country, 
even if he be fully persuaded of its error, on account of the 
terrible trouble and disorder it might cause ; but I am sure it 
is in no wise allowable to attack the foundations of true morality, 
and to break unnecessary bonds which are already too weak to 
keep men in the path of duty." 

But differences upon points of morality and religion did not 
prevent his having an immense regard for Voltaire's genius. 
There is yet the other transaction in which Lord Chester- 
field was engaged, and it will probably be as long re- 
membered against him as the letters, his ill-famed treat- 
ment of Dr. Johnson. It is too well known how Johnson 

* It is just possible, though I have nowhere seen it affirmed, that 
Voltaire and Chesterfield may have met, still earlier, in Holland. For 
in 1713 they were both there. Their attainments there were all 
but parallel, Voltaire succumbing to a fatal passion in 1713, which did 
not, to our knowledge, overtake Chesterfield till his second visit in 
1729. 



xxii PREFATORY NOTE. 

came to his door, and how Chesterfield, who could never 
be impolite, received the ill-mannered Doctor. But either 
the Earl objected to having the old man annoying his 
guests at table, or else he was not sufficiently pressing with 
his money ; anyhow, the Doctor felt repelled, left off calling, 
and never sought another patron. Years afterwards, when 
he brought out his Dictionary (1755), there was a letter pre- 
fixed to the first edition, entitled " The Blast of Doom, pro- 
claiming that patronage shall be no more." Bos well solicited 
the Doctor for many years to give him a copy, but he did 
not do so until 1781, and then gave it from memory : 

"... Seven years, my lord, have passed since I waited in 
your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door ; during 
which time I have been pushing on my work under difficulties, 
of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it to the 
verge of publication without one act of assistance, one word of 
encouragement, or one smile of favour. Such treatment I did 
not expect ; for I never had a patron before. . . . 

" Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on 
a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached 
ground, encumbers him with help ? The notice you have been 
pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been, 
kind ; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot 
enjoy it ; till I am solitary and cannot impart it ; till I am 
known and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity 
not to confess obligations, where no benefit has been received ; 
or to be unwilling that the publick should consider me as owing 
that to a patron which providence has enabled me to do for myself. 

" Having carried on my work thus far, with so little obligation 
to any favourer of learning, I shall not be disappointed, though 
I should conclude it, if possible, with less ; for I have been long 
wakened from that dream of hope in which I once boasted 
myself with so much exaltation, my lord, your lordship's most 
humble and most obedient servant, 

SAMUEL JOHNSON." 



PREFATORY NOTE. xxiii 

Such a transaction is but little to the praise of Lord 
Chesterfield, who would have posed as the Maecenas of 
the eighteenth century. But there the matter rests. It is 
another proof of what the Earl was not, but with the 
slightest bend of his body might have been. He lost the 
Dedication to one of the greatest achievements of the time. 



in. 

Let us turn to Lord Chesterfield's son. Sainte-Beuve 
says of him he was " one of those ordinary men of the 
world of whom it suffices to say there is nothing to be 
said." But there is so much melancholy interest attaching 
to his history that we may well try to discern some of the 
features of the youth. No portrait of Philip Stanhope, so 
far as I am aware, has ever been given to the public, 
though we know from his father's letters that one, if not 
more than one, was executed at Venice during his stay 
there, so that I am unable, as yet, to surmise anything 
from physical feature of form and angle. We know that 
his father sent him to Westminster school, and that there 
he was slovenly and dirty. Of his intellectual qualities we 
hear nothing. iisTaflfeifs letter to the boy, then sixteen, 
is subtle : 

" Since you do not care to be an Assessor of the Imperial 
Chamber, and desire an establishment in England, what do you 
think of being Greek Professor at one of our Universities? It 
is a very pretty sinecure, and requires very little knowledge 
(much less than, I hope, you have already) of that language. 
If you do not approve of this, I am at a loss to know what else 
to propose to you." 

The old earl, six months later, added as follows : 



xxiv PREFATORY NOTE. 

" The end I propose by your education, and which (if you 
please) I shall certainly attain, is, to unite in you all the know- 
ledge of a scholar, with the manners of a courtier, and to join 
' what is seldom joined in any of my countrymen, Books and the 
Worhk They are commonly twenty years old before they have 
spoken to anybody above their schoolmaster, and the Fellows 
of their College. If they happen to have learning, it is only 
Greek and Latin ; but not one word of Modern History or 
Modern Languages. Thus prepared, they go abroad, as they 
'call it; but, in truth, they stay at home all that while; for, 
being very awkward, confoundedly ashamed, and not speaking 
the languages, they go into no foreign company, at least none 
good, but dine and sup with one another at the tavern. Such 
example, I am sure you will not imitate, but carefully avoid." 

Young Stanhope went abroad with a tutor, Mr. Harte, to 
the chief towns, first, of Germany, followed everywhere by 
letters from his father, though, as his father says in one of 
them, " God knows whether to any purpose or not." He 
never escaped from the paternal care. Wherever you are 
" I have Arguses with a hundred eyes," his father told him. 
The boy was affectionately fond of his father, though he did 
not inherit his father's epistolary taste. Yet we find him 
on corresponding terms with Lady Chesterfield. He was 
inclined to be stout, a fault which his father tells him to 
remedy by abstaining from Teutonic beer. He wore long 
hair. " I by no means agree to your cutting off your hair." 
(Stanhope had suggested this as a remedy for headaches.) 
" Your own hair is at your age such an ornament ; and a 
wig, however well made, such a disguise that I will upon 
no account whatever have you cut off your hair." We hear 
that he was already within two inches of his father's height. 
Boswell met him at Dresden, and has left us the following 
picture of him : " Mr. Stanhope's character has been 
unjustly represented as being diametrically opposed to what 



PREFATORY NOTE. xxv 

Lord Chesterfield wished him to be. He has been called 
dull, gross, awkward, but I knew him at Dresden when he 
was envoy to that Court, and though he could not boast of 
the Graces, he was, in fact, a sensible, civil, well-behaved 
man." And what he was as envoy he seems to have been 
all his life. Lord Chesterfield sent him to Berlin first,* and 
Turin afterwards, as there was to be found the next fittest 
training in Europe at that Court. Nothing could exceed 
his father's care in warning him against such dangers as 
usually attend Court life. Against evils of all kind he 
cautions and guards him. Yet there is this continual 
insistence on the Graces. "The Graces! The Graces!" 
he writes, " Remember the Graces ! I would have you sacri- 
fice to the Graces." By no means must a man neglect the 
Graces if he would pursue his object, the object of getting on. 
After all this schooling he went to Paris, and seems to 
have made a tolerable debut. There must have been a 
strange measuring up of qualities when father and son met. 
At twenty-two Lord Chesterfield obtained for him a seat in 
the House, but he was never a brilliant speaker. He, like 
the younger Pitt, was a parliamentary experiment; but it 
was not given to Stanhope to succeed. In 1757 he goes to 
Hamburg. Two years later his health broke down, and he 
came to England. But feeling better again, in 1763 he 
obtained a post at Ratisbon, whence he was once summoned 
to vote in the English Parliament. Next year he went to 
Dresden as envoy, but there his constitution was ruined, and 
he set off for Berlin, and afterwards for France. In the spring 
of 1767 he returned to Dresden, fancying himself better, but 
in the following year the old symptoms returned, and he died 
on the 1 7th of October 1768, near Avignon. It was then 

* He must just have escaped travelling from Leipzig to Berlin with 
Lcssing. Both took the journey in February 1749. 



xxvi PREFATORY NOTE. 



only that his father discovered he was the father of two 
children by a secret marriage. And these, together with 
their mother, were thrown upon Lord Chesterfield for 
support. It is one of the examples of his characteristic 
traits that he supported and loved all three. There is no 
more charming pendant to the whole series of letters than 
a short one of three paragraphs which he wrote to the two 
children of his illegitimate son only two years before he left 
them for ever. 

Here my biographical notice of the three generations ends. 
But the lives of father and son will ever remain full of interest 
and suggestion to those who would study human character. 

There are several portraits of the Earl of Chesterfield. 
The most striking, and at the same time probably the 
most faithful which we have, is that by Bartolozzi in 
the Maty Memoirs. It is clear, mobile, and benevolent. 
The features are very large, and the eyes of that cold 
meditative species which look as though they were the 
altar stone of that fire of wit and quaint humour which 
we know he possessed. It is a fine intellectual, if some- 
what too receding, forehead, with protruding temples and 
clear-cut eyebrows ; the nose prominent, and the mouth 
pronounced. There is a great diversity however in the 
portraits, and he seems sometimes to have been unable 
to hide the traits of sensuality. Yet, on the whole, it is 
as inscrutable as his own scheming diplomatic soul could 
ever have wished for its earthly representative in clay. 



IV. 

If we ask ourselves what is the moral of the Letters, 
and what is their significance, we are met with a varied 
reply. We have here the outpourings of a man's soul in 



PREFATORY NOTE. xxvii 

penetralibus. As such the book stands for its time unique. 
Chesterfield, when he wrote these letters, was not actuated 
by the criticisms of Grub Street, nor indeed any criticisms. 
He never for a moment dreamt that his letters would be 
published, and they are therefore bereft of that stifling self- 
consciousness which is the bane of so many writers. It is 
this which makes so frequently a man's letters more living 
than his published works, at any rate more real. So far, of 
course, Lord Chesterfield shares this distinction with other 
writers. But his letters are noteworthy for more than 
this. They combine with it a complete system of educa- 
tion, a system which was thought out without opposition 
and expressed without fear. In such a case, of course, 
we do not look for style; but so perfect and so equal 
was the man that we are even told that these letters are 
not exceeded in style by anything in the language.* 

Manuals, of course, there have been many. In the age 
gone by there had been Walsingham's, there had been 
Burghley's Advice, there had been Sir Walter Raleigh's; 
but from the time that Cicero wrote his De Officiis for 
his own child down to these, we come upon but few of 
this sort. There had been Castiglione's Cortegiano, and 
in a few years Delia Casa's Galateo\ there is Roger 
Ascham's Scholemastcr. Chesterfield had found much to 
his taste and method in the Moral Reflections of La 
Rochefoucauld and the Characters of La Bruyere. In 
our own country had just appeared Locke's Essay on 
Education^ and this he sends for his son to read.f 

* For his fiufiLSgnse of the quality of words witness : " An unhar- 
monious and rugged period at this time shocks my ears, and I, like all 
the rest of the world, will willingly exchange and give up some degree 
of rough sense for a good degree of pleasing sound." 

t Characteristically, no mention is made of Shaftesbury nor of 
Hutcheson. 



xxviii PREFATORY NOTE. 

In 1759 Lessing and Wieland were writing on the same 
subject; and in 1762 Rousseau published Emile. Every- 
where education was, to use a common phrase, in the 
air. Chesterfield loved his son passionately and unremit- 
tingly. He had been much in France, and admired the 
French nation ; and he determined that his son should 
combine the good qualities of both nationalities the 
ideal statesman and the ideal polished man of society. 
He did not forget that on Philip Stanhope would ever 
remain the brand of the bar sinister; but we may well 
believe that this was only one more daring reason for 
the experiment which he chose to make. He was playing 
for high stakes, and he was not careless of the issue. 
"My only ambition," he writes in 1754, "remaining is to 
be the counsellor and minister of your rising ambition. 
Let me see my own youth revived in you ; let me be your 
mentor, and I promise you, with your parts and knowledge, 
you shall go far." (Letter CCLXXIV.) 

It is seldom that we have such a continuous series of 
original letters as these. From the first badinage to his 
son, then five years old, who was .then in Holland, 
in which he explains what a republic is, and how clean is 
Holland in comparison with London ; from the times when 
he explains how Poetry is made, and who the Muses are, 
and sends his little son accounts of all the Greek and 
Roman legends ; from the times when he writes, " Let us 
return to our Geography that we may amuse ourselves with 
maps ; " and in the middle of a letter of affection, having 
mentioned Cicero, starts off "apropos of him," and gives 
his little son his whole history, and that of Demosthenes 
after him; to the times when the boy is able to retort- 
on him for inconsistency in calling Ovidius Ovid, and 
not calling Tacitus Tacit; through all his explanations of 



PREFATORY NOTE. xxix 

what Irony is and is not; through his pedantic "by the 
ways ; " his definitions (pace Professor Freeman) of Ancient 
and Modern History ; his sarcasms and his descriptions : 
down to the time when his advice is about quadrille tables 
and ministers and kings, the series is absolutely unbroken 
and of unflagging interest. 

They are at the best, as he says himself, "What one 
man of the world writes to another." " I am not writing 
poetry," he says, "but useful reflections." "Surely it is 
of great use to a young man before he starts out for a 
country full of mazes, windings and turnings, to have at 
least a good map of it by some experienced traveller." 
And so the old man gives us his niap_joMjfe as he had 
seen it. It is exactly the same estimate in result as Cicero 
gave in the De Orators : " Men judge most things under 
the influence of either hate, or love, or desire, or anger, or 
grief, or joy, or hope, or fear, or error, or some other 
passion, than by truth, or precepts, or standard of right, 
or justice, or law." 

" The proper study of mankind is man," 

and if we disapprove of the morality of Cicero and his 
epoch no less than of Chesterfield's, we must yet remember 
that in the one instance, as in the other, their precepts were 
the purveyors of very soundest advice. His standard is, 
as has been already pointed out, that of the eighteenth 
century. " Be wiser than other people if you can ; but 
do not tell them so." " It is an active, cheerful, seducing 
good-breeding which must gain you the good-will and 
first sentiments of the men and the affections of the women. 
You must carefully watch and attend to their passions, 
their tastes, their little humours and weaknesses, and alter 
au devant" " Make love to the most impertinent beauty 
that you meet with, and be gallant with all the rest" 



XXT PREFATORY NOTE. 

It would be a not uninteresting task to see how many of 
his moral sentiments would stand fire at the present day. 
We know all the facts of his life, and we have here his 
opinions on nearly every matter. His opinions are as 
concise as they are outspoken. " The best of us have had 
our bad sides, and it is as imprudent as it is ill-bred to 
i exhibit them,"* he says. It is this absence of ceremony 
which makes him so living and real. Even in Dr. 
Johnson's time the merit as well as the demerit of this 
series of letters had been settled for the standard of that 
day. " Take out the immorality," said the worthy Doctor, 
"and it should be put into the hands of every young 
gentleman." 

The training to which he subjected his son was in many 
ways admirable. Rise regularly, however late o' nights ; 
work all the morning ; take exercise in the afternoon ; and 
see good company in the evening. The impressing of this 
advice upon his son has left us in the possession of one of 
the most charming examples of Lord Chesterfield's most 
playful style. (Letter CLXI.) 

Lord Chesterfield was all fqr modern to the disadvantage 
of a classical education. Learn all the modern history and 
modern languages you can, and if at the same time you 
can throw in a little Latin and Greek, so much the 
better for you. Roman history study as much as you will, 
for of all ancient histories it is the most instructive, and 
furnishes most examples of virtue, wisdom, and courage. 
History is to be studied morally, he says, but not only so. 

When we turn to his judgment of the ancients we are 
considerably startled. He seems to have preferred 
Voltaire's Henriadt to any epic. " Judge whether," he 

* Cf. Sir Walter Raleigh's " Every Man's Folly ought to be his 
greatest Secret." (Instructions to his Son.) 



PREFATORY NOTE. xxxi 

writes, " I can read all Homer through tout de suite. I 
admire his beauties ; but, to tell you the truth, when he 
slumbers I sleep. Virgil, I confess, is all sense, and there- 
fore I like him better than his model; but he is often 
languid, especially in his five or six last books, during 
which I am obliged to take a good deal of snuff. ..." 

If his views on Milton should be known, he adds, he 
would be abused by every tasteless pedant and every solid 
divine in England. His criticism of Dante it will be best 
for the reader himself to discover. 

The weightier questions and the weightiest he pushed 
altogether aside. "I don't speak of religion," he writes. 
" I am not in a position to do so the excellent Mr. Harte 
will do that." At any rate, Chesterfield knew his own 
ground. Incidentally we find his position cropping up. 
" The reason of every man is, or ought to be, his guide ; 
and I should have as much right to expect every man to 
be of my height and temperament as to wish that he 
should reason precisely as I do." It was the doctrine of 
the French school that he had adopted, with something 
of a quietism of his own. " Let them enjoy quietly their 
errors," he says somewhere, "both in taste and religion."* 
It would be interesting to compare in these matters the 
relative positions of Chesterfield and Bolingbroke. 

Of the movement headed by Wesley, as we have seen 
earlier in his career, Chesterfield seems to have taken as 
little heed as the younger Pliny did of the first holders 
of Wesley's faith. 

It is a harder and more delicate question which we are 
met with in discussing Lord Chesterfield's position with 

* ' A wise Atheist (if such a thing there is) would, for his own 
interest and character in the world, pretend to some religion.' 
Letter CLXXX. 



xxxii PREFATORY NOTE. 

regard to morality. Johnson's criticism of the Letters^ 
that " they taught the morals of a courtesan and manners 
of a dancing master," even though epigrammatic, yet bears 
within it traces of the sting which the lexicologist felt 
about the matter of the Dedication. Of the Earl's 
opinions we have seen something in former extracts and 
in his own life. He speaks quite openly " I wish to 
speak as one man of pleasure does to another." " A polite 
arrangement," he says elsewhere, "becomes a gallant man." 
Anything disgraceful or impolite he will not stand. 

Yet as a human Picciola does Lord Chesterfield guard 
the soul of his son within its prison-house of life. He 
never speaks, however, to his son pulpitically. It is 
ever as a wise counsellor : and his tendency is always the 
same. 

It is suggestive of much to turn aside from the petitesses 
of these instructions to the thoughts which were occupying 
the brain of the author of Emilius about the same time. 
From very much the same foundations and the same 
materials how different is the result! In the one we 
breathe the fresh air of the country, of the rustic home and 
the carpenter's shop : in the other we are stifled by the 
perfumes of the court-room and suffocated by tight lacing. 
In the one we are never for a moment to wear a mask : in 
the other we are never for a moment to move without it 
Yet, though the one is built up of social theories by an 
enthusiastic dreamer, and the other is a cold, practical experi- 
ment by a man of the world, and " an imperfect man of 
action, whom politics had made a perfect moralist," there is 
the same verdict of failure to be pronounced upon them 
both. Voltaire said of Emilius that it was a stupid 
romance, but admitted that it contained fifty pages which 
he would have bound in morocco. Lord Chesterfield's was 



PREFATORY NOTE. m xxxiii 

no romance, but its pages deserve perhaps as careful treat 
ment. " It is a rich book," says Sainte-Beuve ; " one 
cannot read a page without finding some happy observation 
worthy of being mentioned." Yet, as a system of education, 
it is blasted with the foul air of the charnel-house. 



v. 

If we look at the result we must pronounce his experi- 
ment no less a failure. The odds were too heavy in the 
first instance, and a man of less energy and stability than 
Lord Chesterfield would not have dared to have played at 
such high stakes. He ought to have considered what an 
infliction he was casting upon his son, and respected the 
feelings of others rather than his own ambition. He has 
reaped the harvest which he had sown. When Philip 
Stanhope tried to obtain an appointment at the embassy in 
Brussels the Marquis de Botta made so much to do on the 
ground of his illegitimacy that his claim was disallowed. 
When there was a chance of his receiving an appointment 
at Venice, the king objected on the same grounds. Not 
one word of displeasure is handed down to us in these 
familiar letters, but we know that both felt it deeply and 
never forgave. But even Philip Stanhope himself must 
have disappointed his father. When his widow, with her 
two children, walked up the hall of Chesterfield House, 
where the earl sat alone in solitary childless grandeur, it 
must have seemed a strange answer to the question which 
he had asked Time some thirty-eight years before. He 
may well have grown weary of sitting at the table at which 
he had staked his all and lost. 

Vivacious, sincere, plain, and liberal-minded, his memory 
may well pass down to posterity as that of a great man 

3 



xxxiv PREFATORY NOTE. 

with mean aspirations. That ambition was not wanting in 
his composition is true, and it was this which encompassed 
his ruin. He reminds us of the melancholy structure 
of S. Petronio at Bologna, begun in emulation of the 
Florentine Duomo by the Bolognese. One sees the out- 
line of the structure which was to have been raised, but 
for two centuries it has stood uncompleted, a monument to 
her greatness and her shame. 

Careless of the interests of those around him ; careless 
and callous of what was demanded of man by men ; care- 
less of speech so long as he could create a bon-mot or a well- 
balanced phrase, Lord Chesterfield's life is characteristic of 
his time. 

Chesterfield, if we may make one more comparison, is 
like one of those great trees that we see upon the banks of 
a river, which, while drawing its nurture half from its 
native soil and the stream by its side, and half from the 
sky above it, has had that very soil worn away by the 
current of the stream, so that the tree, by its own natural 
weight and under the force of adverse winds and circum- 
stance, has bowed itself over towards the waves, losing 
its natural height and grandeur for ever. 

Dead to the higher interests of humanity; dead to the 
deeper influences which keep us sober and thoughtful and 
earnest ; dead, again, to any ideal save such as might serve 
his own designs : such was the man who deemed himself 
called upon, or fitted, to perform the sacred office of 
Education to his darling child. 

C. S. 



CHESTERFIELD'S LETTERS. 



LORD CHESTERFIELD'S LETTERS. 



LETTER I. 

DEAR BOY, Tunbridge, July the 1 5th, 1739. 

I THANK you for your concern about my health ; which 
I would have given you an account of sooner, but that 
writing does not agree with these waters. I am better 
since I have been here ; and shall therefore stay a month 
longer. 

Signor Zamboni compliments me, through you, much 
more than I deserve; but pray do you take care to 
deserve what he says of you ; and remember, that praise, 
when it is not deserved, is the severest satire and abuse; 
and the most effectual way of exposing people's vices and 
follies. This is a figure of speech called Irony; which 
is saying directly the contrary of what you mean ; but yet 
it is not a lie, because you plainly show, that you mean 
directly the contrary of what you say ; so that you deceive 
nobody. For example; if one were to compliment a 
notorious knave for his singular honesty and probity, and 
an eminent fool for his wit and parts, the irony is plain, 
and everybody would discover the satire. Or, suppose 
that I were to commend you for your great attention to 
your book, and for your retaining and remembering what 
you have once learned; would not you plainly perceive 



2 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

the irony, and see that I laughed at you ? Therefore, 
whenever you are commended for anything, consider fairly, 
with yourself, whether you deserve it or not; and if you 
do not deserve it, remember that you are only abused and 
laughed at ; and endeavour to deserve better for the future 
and to prevent the irony. 

Make my compliments to Mr. Maittaire, and return him 
my thanks for his letter. He tells me, that you are again 
to go over your Latin and Greek Grammar ; so that when 
I return, I expect to find you very perfect in it; but if I 
do not, I shall compliment you upon your application and 
memory. Adieu. 



LETTER II. 

DEAR BOY, November the 2oth, 1739. 

As you are now reading the Roman History, I hope 
you do it with that care and attention which it deserves. 
The utility of History consists principally in the examples 
it gives us of the virtues and vices of those who have gone 
before us : upon which we ought to make the proper 
observations. History animates and excites us to the love 
and the practice of virtue ; by showing us the regard and 
veneration that was always paid to great and virtuous 
men, in the times in which they lived, and the praise 
and glory with which their names are perpetuated, and 
transmitted down to our times. The Roman History 
furnishes more examples of virtue and magnanimity, or 
greatness of mind, than any other. It was a common thing 
to see their Consuls and Dictators (who, you know, were 
their chief Magistrates) taken from the plough, to lead tneir 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 3 

armies against their enemies; and, after victory, returning 
to their plough again, and passing the rest of their lives 
in modest retirement : a retirement more glorious, if pos- 
sible, than the victories that preceded it ! Many of their 
greatest men died so poor, that they were buried at the 
expense of the public. Curius, who had no money of 
his own, refused a great sum that the Samnites offered him, 
saying, that he saw no glory in having money himself, but 
in commanding those that had. Cicero relates it thus : 
" Curio adfocum sedenti magnum auri pondus Samnites cum 
attulissent, repudiati ab eo sunt. Non enim aurum habere 
pradarum sibi videri, sed it's, qui habercnt aurum, imperare" 
And Fabricms, who had often commanded the Roman 
armies, and as often triumphed over their enemies, was 
found by his fireside, eating those roots and herbs which he 
had planted and cultivated himself in his own field. Seneca 
tells it thus: Fabridus ad focum canat illas ipsas radices^ 
guas y in agro repurgando, triumphalis Senex vulsit. Scipio, 
after a victory he had obtained in Spain, found among the 
prisoners a young Princess of extreme beauty, who, he was 
informed, was soon to have been married to a man of 
quality of that country. He ordered her to be entertained 
and attended with the same care and respect, as if she had 
been in her father's house ; and, as soon as he could find 
her lover, he gave her to him, and added to her portion 
the money that her father had brought for her ransom. 
Valerius Maximus says, Eximia forma virgincm accersitis 
parentibus, et sponso inviolatam tradidit, et fuvenis, et Calebs^ 
et Victor. This was a most glorious example of modera- 
tion, continence, and generosity, which gained him the 
hearts of all the people of Spain \ and made them say, as 
Livy tells us, Venisse Diis simillimum juvenem, vincentem 
omnia, cum armis, turn benignilate^ ac benefidis. 



4 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Such are the rewards that always crown virtue; and 
such the characters that you should imitate, if you would be 
a great and a good man, which is the only way to be a 
happy one 1 Adieu. 



LETTER III. 
DEAR BOY, Saturday. 

SINCE you choose the name of Polyglot, I hope you will 
take care to deserve it ; which you can only do by care and 
application. I confess the names of Frisky, and Colas, are 
not quite so honourable ; but then, remember too, that 
there cannot be a stronger ridicule, than to call a man by 
an honourable name, when he is known not to deserve it. 
For example ; it would be a manifest irony to call a very 
ugly fellow an Adonis (who, you know, was so handsome, 
that Venus herself fell in love with him), or to call a 
cowardly fellow an Alexander, or an ignorant fellow, Poly- 
glot ; for everybody would discover the sneer : and Mr. 
Pope observes very truly, that 

c< Praise undeserved is satire in disguise." 

Next to the doing of things that deserve to be written, 
there is nothing that gets a man more credit, or gives him 
more pleasure, than to write things that deserve to be read. 
The younger Pliny (for there were two Plinys, the uncle 
and the nephew) expresses it thus : " Equidem beatos puto, 
quibus Deorum munere datum est, aut facere scribenda^ aut 
legenda scribere; beatissimos verb quibus utrumque" 

Pray mind your Greek particularly ; for to know Greek 
very well is to be really learned: there is no great credit 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 5 

in knowing Latin, for everybody knows it ; and it is only a 
shame not to know it. Besides that, you will understand 
Latin a great deal the better for understanding Greek very 
well ; a great number of Latin words, especially the technical 
words, being derived from the Greek. Technical words 
mean such particular words as relate to any art or science ; 
from the Greek word TfX vr 1i which signifies Art, and 
TfxviKos, which signifies Artificial. Thus, a Dictionary, 
that explains the terms of Art, is called a Lexicon 
Technicum, or a Technical Dictionary. Adieu. 



LETTER IV. 
DEAR BOY, 

I SEND you here a few more Latin roots, though I am 
not sure that you will like my roots so well as those that 
grow in your garden ; however, if you will attend to them, 
they may save you a great deal of trouble. These few will 
naturally point out many others to your own observation ; 
and enable you, by comparison, to find out most derived 
and compound words, when once you know the original 
root of them. You are old enough now to make observa- 
tions upon what you learn ; which, if you would be pleased 
to do, you cannot imagine how much time and trouble it 
would save you. Remember, you are now very near nine 
years old ; an age at which all boys ought to know a great 
deal, but you, particularly, a great deal more, considering 
the care and pains that have been employed about you; 
and if you do not answer those expectations, you will lose 
your character ; which is the most mortifying thing that can 
happen to a generous mind. Everybody has ambition, of 



6 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

some kind or other, and is vexed when that ambition is 
disappointed : the difference is, that the ambition of silly 
people is a silly and mistaken ambition; and the ambition 
of people of sense is a right and commendable one. For 
instance ; the ambition of a silly boy, of your age, would be 
to have fine clothes, and money to throw away in idle 
follies ; which, you plainly see, would be no proofs of merit 
in him, but only of folly in his parents, in dressing him out 
like a jackanapes, and giving him money to play the fool 
with. Whereas a boy of good sense places his ambition in 
excelling other boys of his own age, and even older, in 
virtue and knowledge. His glory is in being known always 
to speak the truth, in showing good-nature and compassion, 
in learning quicker, and applying himself more than other 
boys. These are real proofs of merit in him, and conse- 
quently proper objects of ambition ; and will acquire him a 
solid reputation and character. This holds true in men, as 
well as in boys : the ambition of a silly fellow will be, to 
have a fine equipage, a fine house, and fine clothes ; things 
which anybody, that has as much money, may have as well 
as he ; for they are all to be bought : but the ambition of a 
man of sense and honour is, to be distinguished by a 
character and reputation of knowledge, truth, and virtue; 
things which are not to be bought, and that can only be 
acquired by a good head and a good heart. Such was the 
ambition of the Lacedaemonians and the Romans, when 
they made the greatest figure ; and such, I hope, yours will 
always be. Adieu. 



LETTERS TO HIS SOW. 7 

LETTER V. -. 

DEAR BOY, Wednesday. 

You behaved yourself so well at Mr. Boden's, last 
Sunday, that you justly deserve commendation : besides, 
you encourage me to give you some rules of politeness and 
good breeding, being persuaded that you will observe them. 
Know, then, that as learning, honour, and virtue are 
absolutely necessary to g"'" y 1 <*"* pgtpprn a n ^ admiration 
ofL mankind ;- politeness and good breeding are equally 
necessary to make y_Qu_W-lcQ_me and agreeable in conversa- 
tion and mmmpn Ufa. Great talents, such as honour, 
virtue, learning, and parts, are above the generality of the 
who neither possess them fhpmsplvps, nor 



r>f fhprp rightly in nthen hiU all people are judges of the 
]p_ssgr talents, such as ^iyjlitv^ affability, and an obliging, 
agreeable a^ress ^H onrwrTUiicA they feel the good 
effects of them, as making society easy and pleasing. Good 

ir> a"y racpg Hpfprmin^ good 



because the same thing that would be civil at one time, and 
to one person, may be quite otherwise at another time, and 
to another person; but there are some general rules of 
good breeding, that hold always true, and in all cases. As, 
for example, it is always extremely rude to answer only Yes, 
Dr No, to anybody, without adding, Sir, my Lord, or Madam, 
jiccording to the quality of the person you speak to ; as, in 
French, you must always say, Monsieur, Milord, Madame, 
and Mademoiselle. I suppose you know that every married 
woman is, in French, Madame, and every unmarried one is 
Mademoiselle. It is likewise extremely rude not to give the 
proper attention, and a civil answer, when people speak to 
you ; or to go away, or be doing something else, while they 
are speaking to you ; for that convinces them that you 



8 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

despise them, and do not think it worth your while to hear 
or answer what they say. I dare say I need not tell you 
how rude it is to take the best place in a room, or to seize 
immediately upon what you like at table, without offering 
first to help others, as if you considered nobody but your- 
self. On the contrary, you should always endeavour to 
procure all the conveniences you can to the people you are 
with. Besi des _ being ...civil, . which . is^ 



~P~^^ * b- c ^ v ^ with -.ease, 

and in .a...gentlemanlik&_T"annftr. For this, you should 
observe the French people, who excel in it, and whose 
politeness seems as easy and natural as any other part of 
their conversation. Whereas the English are often awkward 
in their civilities, and, when they mean to be civil, are too 
much ashamed to get it out. But, pray, do you remember 
never to be ashamed of doing what is right : you would 
have a great deal of reason to be ashamed if you were not 
civil ; but what reason can you have to be ashamed of 
being civil ? And why not say a civil and an obliging thing 
as easily and as naturally as you would ask what o'clock it 
is ? This kind of bashfulness, which is justly called, by 
the French, mauvaise honte, is the distinguishing character 
of an English booby; who is frightened out of his wits. 
when people of fashion speak to him ; and when he is tc 
answer them, blushes, stammers, can hardly get out what 
he would say, and becomes really ridiculous, from a 
groundless fear of being laughed at : whereas a real well- 
bred man would speak to all the Kings in the world, with 
as little concern, and as much ease, as he would speak to 
you. 

Remember, then, that tn fo ^jyil, and jo fop nVil with 
MSP (which is properly railed gnnH breeding), i> thf> nnly 
way to be_belove(^, and well received in company: tjiat to 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. g' 

^ ill-bred, and rude, is intolerabIe L _and the way tn he 
kicked out of company ; and that to be bashful is to be 
ridiculous. As I am sure you will mind and practise all 
this, I expect that when you are novennis, you will not only 
be the best scholar, but the best-bred boy in England of 
your age. Adieu. 

LETTER VI. 

DEAR BOY, Spa, the 25th July, N. S. 1741, 

I HAVE often told you in my former letters (and it is 
most certainly true) that the strictest and most scrupulous 
honour and virtue can alone make you esteemed and 
valued by mankind; that parts and learning can alone 
make you admired and celebrated by them ; but that the 
possession of lesser talents was most absolutely necessary 
towards making yoTi^Jikfd, bH^vod) nnrf i might after in 
private life. Of these lesser talents, good /breeding is the 
principal and most necessary one, not only as it is very 
important in itself, but as it adds great lustre jo the more 
solid advantages both of the heart and the maid I have 
ofteiTTouched upon good breeding tcTyou before, so that 
this letter shall be upon the next necessary qualification to 
it, which is a genteel, easy manner and carriage, wholly free 
from those odd tricks, ill habits, and awkwardnesses which 
even many very worthy and sensible people have in their 

behaviour. Hpwpypr trifling n gpptppl mflnnT~w^y-CTTrmf^ 

it is of very gr^ rnn^qnpnrp towards pleasing in private, 
lifaj pgppcially thfi yrnmpn A whifh^ one time or other, you 
will think worth pleasing ; and I have known many a man, 
from his awkwardness, give people such a dislike of him at 



io LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

first, that all his merit could not get the better of it after- 
wards. Whereas a genteel manner prepossesses people in 
your favour, bends them towards you, and makes them wish 
to like you. Awkwardness can proceed but from two 
causes either from not having kept good company, or 
from not having attended to it. As for your keeping good 
company, I will take care of that; do you take care to 
observe their ways and manners, and to form your own 
upon them. Attention is absolutely necessary for this, as 
indeed it is for everything else, and a man without attention 
is not fit to live in the world. When an awkward fellow 
first comes into a room, it is highly probable that his sword 
gets between his legs and throws him down, or makes him 
stumble, at least. When he has recovered this accident, he 
goes and places himself in the very place of the whole room 
where he should not ; there he soon lets his hat fall down, 
and in taking it up again, throws down his cane ; in 
recovering his cane, his hat falls a second time ; so that 
he is a quarter of an hour before he is in order again. If 
he drinks tea or coffee he certainly scalds his mouth, and 
lets either the cup or the saucer fall, and spills the tea or 
coffee in his breeches. At dinner his awkwardness dis- 
tinguishes itself particularly, as he has more to do : there 
he holds his knife, fork, and spoon differently from other 
people ; eats with his knife to the great danger of his 
mouth ; picks his teeth with his fork, and puts his spoon, 
which has been in his throat twenty times, into the dishes 
again. If he is to carve, he can never hit the joint, but, in 
his vain efforts to cut through the bone, scatters the sauce 
in everybody's face. He generally daubs himself with soup 
and grease, though his napkin is commonly stuck through 
a buttonhole and tickles his chin. When he drinks he 
infallibly coughs in his glass, and besprinkles the company. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. n 

Besides all this, he has strange tricks and gestures ; such as 
snuffing up his nose, making faces, putting his fingers in his 
nose, or blowing it and looking afterwards in his handker- 
chief, so as to make the company sick. His hands are 
troublesome to him when he has not something in them, 
and he does not know where to put them ; but they are in 
perpetual motion between his bosom and his breeches : he 
does not wear his clothes, and, in short, does nothing, 
like other people. AlLtfe_I own, is not in any degree 

ridiculous in 



company, and ought mnsf- carefully -to bo avoided -by 
whoeyjer-jdesires to please. 

From this account of what you should not do, you may 
easily judge what you should do; and a due attention to 
the manners of people of fashion, and who have seen the 
world, will make it habitual and familiar to you. 

There is, likewise, an awkwardness of expression and 
words, iriost carefully to be avoided ; such as false English, 
bad_2rpnunciation, old sayings, and common proverbs ; 
which are so many proofs of having kept bad and low 
company. For example; if, instead of saying that tastes i 
are different, and that every man has his own peculiar one, 
you should let off a proverb, and say, That what is one 
man's meat is another man's poison ; or else, Every one as 
they like, as the good man said when he kissed his cow ;( 
everybody would be persuaded that you had never kej 
company with anybody above footmen and housemaids. 

Attention will do all this ; and without attention nothing 
is to be done : want of attention, which is really want of 
thought, is either folly or madness. You should not only 
have attention to everything, but a quickness of attention, 
so as to observe, at once, all the people in the room, their 
motions, their looks, and their words, and yet without 



12 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

staring at them, and seeming to be an observer. This 
quick and unobserved observation is of infinite advantage 
in life, and is to be acquired with care ; and, on the con- 
trary, what is called absence, which is a thoughtlessness, 
and want of attention about what is doing, makes a man so 
like either a fool or a madman, that for my part I see 
no real difference. A fool never has thought ; a mad- 
man has lost it ; and an absent man is, for the time, 
without it. 

Adieu ! Direct your next to me, chez Monsieur Chabert, 
Banquier, d Paris ; and take care that I find the improve- 
ments I expect, at my return. 



LETTER VII. 

DEAR BOY, Spa, August the 6th, 1741. 

I AM very well pleased with the several performances you 
sent me, and still more so with Mr. Maittaire's letter, that 
accompanied them, in which he gives me a much better 
account of you than he did in his former. Laudari 
a laudato viro^ was always a commendable ^ambition \ 
encourage that ambition, and continue to deserve the 
praises of the praiseworthy. White ynn do sq, yon shp|l 
hn,Yf whatever ymi will from mp; nnrl wb^" yn^ cease to 
do jsp, you shalljha^e_nothing. 

I am glad you have begun to compose a little ; it will 
give you a habit of thinking upon subjects, which is at 
least as necessary as reading them ; therefore pray send me 
your thoughts upon this subject : 

" Non sibi, sed toti genitum se credere mundo." 



LETTERS TO HIS SON 13 

It is a part of Cato's character in Lucan ; who says, that 
Cato did not think himself born for himself only, but for 
all mankind. Let me know, then, whether you think that 
a man is born only for his own pleasure and advantage, 
or whether he is not obliged to contribute to the good 
of the society in which he lives, and of all mankind in 
general. This is certain, that every man receives advan- 
tages from society, which he could not have, if he were 
the only man in the world : therefore, is he not in some 
measure in debt to society? and is he not obliged to do 
for others what they do for him ? You may do this in 
English or Latin, which you please ; for it is the thinking 
part, and not the language, that I mind in this case. 

I warned you, in my last, against those disagreeable 
tricks and awkwardnesses, which many people contract 
when they are young, by the negligence of their parents, 
and cannot get quit of them when they are old ; such as 
odd motions, strange postures, and ungenteel carriage 
But there is likewise an awkwardnfss nf * 



oughLJ-Q be, nnd with arp r" a y ^ gynidpH : as, for 
instance, to mistake or forget names ; to speak of Mr. 
What-d'ye-call-him, or Mrs. Thingum, or How-d'ye-call-her, 
is excessively awkward and ordinary. To call people by 
improper titles and appellations is so too ; as my Lord, for 
Sir ; and Sir, for my Lord. To begin a story or narration, 
when you are not perfect in it, and cannot go through 
with it, but are forced, possibly, to say in the middle of 
it, "I have forgot the rest," is very unpleasant and hnnglinp 
One, must bfi extremely exar.r, clear, and perspicuous in 
pypryfhing nnp says, Othf arwl ' gp , insiwiH pf entertaining or 
informing others, one only tires and puzzles them. The 
voice and manner of speaking, too, are not to be neglected : 
some people almost shut their mouths when they speak, and 

4 



14 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

mutter so that they are not to be understood ; others speak 
so fast, and sputter, that they are not to be understood 
neither ; some always speak as loud as if they were talking 
to deaf people ; and others so low that one cannot hear 
them. All these habits are awkward and disagreeable, and 
are to be avoided by attention : they are the distinguishing 
rnarlfs of thp nrrjjnary people, who have had no care taken 
of their education. You cannot imagine how necessary it 
is to mind all these little things ; for I 



talents, ill received, for want of having 



faints tO n ; and nthprc wHl "^''vpd, only from their 
little talents and who hafl no grpat 



LETTER VIII. 
SlR, Saturday. 

THE fame of your erudition, and other shining qualifi- 
cations, having reached to Lord Orrery, he desired me, that 
you might dine with him and his son, Lord Boyle, next 
Sunday; which I told him you should. By this time, I 
suppose, you have heard from him ; but, if you have 
not, you must, however, go there between two and three 
to-morrow, and say, that you come to wait upon Lord 
Boyle, according to his Lordship's orders, which I 
informed you of. As this will deprive me of the honour 
and pleasure of your company at dinner to-morrow, I will 
hope for it at breakfast, and shall take care to have your 
chocolate ready. 

Though I need not tell one of your age, experience, 
and knowledge of the world, how necessary good-breeding 
is, to recommend one to mankind; yet, as your various 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 15 

occupations of Greek and cricket, Latin and pitch-farthing, 
may possibly divert your attention from this object, I 
take the liberty of reminding you of it, and desiring you 
to be very well bred at Lord Orrery's. Tf is gnnri breading 
llfmp t^nf nnn prApnccgcjfi people in yonr favnur tt first 
g ighf; F"* tirpp bging necessary to Hisr.nver greater 
tajfipts. This good breeding, you know, does not consist 
in low bows and formal ceremony; hnf fa ^n easy, civil f 

You will therefore take care 



to answer with complaisance, when you are spoken to; 
to place yourself at the lower end of the table, unless 
bid to go higher ; to drink first to the Lady of the house, 
and next to the Master; not to eat awkwardly or dirtily; 
not to sit when others stand : and to do all this with an 
air of complaisance, and not with a grave, sour look, as 
if you did it all unwillingly. I do not mean a silly, insipid 
smile, that fools have when they would be civil; but an 
air nf sensible gnnd humour. I hardly know anything so 
difficult to attain, or so necessary to possess, as perfect 
good breeding, which is equally inconsistent with a stiff 
formality, an impertinent forwardness, and an awkward 
bashfulness. A little ceremony is often necessary; a 
certain degree of firmness is absolutely so ; and an outward 
modesty is extremely becoming : the knowledge of the 
world, and your own observations, must, and alone can, 
tell you the proper quantities of each. 

Mr. Fitzgerald was with me yesterday, and commended 
you much ; go on to deserve commendations, and you will 
certainly meet with them. Adieu. 



16 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER IX. 

DEAR BOY, Dublin, January the 25th, 1745. 

As there are now four mails due from England, one of 
which, at least, will, I suppose, bring me a letter from you, I 
take this opportunity of acknowledging it beforehand, that 
you may not accuse me (as you once or twice have done) of 
negligence. I am very glad to find, by your letter which I 
am to receive, that you are determined to apply yourself 
seriously to your business ; to attend to what you learn, in 
order to learn it well ; and to reflect and reason upon what 
you have learned, that your learning may be of use to you. 
These are very good resolutions, and I applaud you mightily 
for them. Now for your last letter, which I have received. 
You rebuke me very severely for not knowing, or at least 
not remembering, that you have been some time in the fifth 
form. Here, I confess, I am at a loss what to say for 
myself; for, on the one hand, I own it is not probable that 
you would not, at the time, have communicated an event of 
that importance to me; and, on the other hand, it is not 
likely that, if you had informed me of it, I could have for- 
gotten it. You say that it happened six months ago; in 
which, with all due submission to you, I apprehend you are 
mistaken, because that must have been before I left 
England, which I am sure it was not; and it does not 
appear, in any of your original manuscripts, that it happened 
since. May not this possibly proceed from the oscitancy 
of the writer? To this oscitancy of the librarians, we owe 
so many mistakes, hiatuses, lacunae, etc., in ancient manu- 
scripts. It may here be necessary to explain to you the 
meaning of the Oscitantes librarii ; which, I believe, you will 
easily take. These persons (before printing was invented) 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 17 

transcribed the works of authors, sometimes for their own 
profit, but oftener (as they were generally slaves) for the 
profit of their masters. In the first case, dispatch, more than 
accuracy, was their object ; for the faster they wrote the more 
they got : in the latter case (observe this), as it was a task 
imposed on them, which they did not dare to refuse, they 
were idle, careless, and incorrect ; not giving themselves the 
trouble to read over what they had written. The celebrated 
Atticus kept a great number of these transcribing slaves, and 
got great sums of money by their labours. 

But, to return now to your fifth form, from whence I have 
strayed, it may be, too long ; Pray what do you do in that 
country ? Be so kind as to give me a description of it. 
What Latin and Greek books do you read there ? Are your 
exercises exercises of invention ? or do you still put the bad 
English of the psalms into bad Latin, and only change the 
shape of Latin verse, from long to short, and from short tc 
long ? People do not improve, singly, by travelling, but by 
the observations they make, and by keeping good company 
where they do travel. So I hope, in your travels, through 
the fifth form, you keep company with Horace and Cicero, 
among the Romans ; and Homer and Xenophon, among the 
Greeks ; and that you are got out of the worst company in 
the world, the Greek epigrams. Martial has wit, and is 
worth your looking into sometimes ; but I recommend the 
Greek epigrams to your supreme contempt. Good-night 
to you. 



i8 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER X. 

DEAR BOY, Dublin Castle, November the igth, 174$. 

I HAVE received your last Saturday's performance, with 
which I am very well satisfied I know or have heard of no 
Mr. St. Maurice here ; and young Pain, whom I have made 
an Ensign, was here upon the spot, as were every one of 
those I have named in these new levies. 

Now that the Christmas breaking up draws near, I have 
ordered Mr. Desnoyers to go to you, during that time, to 
teach you to dance. I desire you will particularly attend to 
the graceful motion of your arms ; which, with the manner 
of putting on your hat, and giving your hand, is all that 
a gentleman need attend to. pancing is in itself a very 
trifling, silly thing : but it is one of those established follies 
to which people of sense are sometimes obliged to conform ; 
and then they should be able to do it well. And, though I 
would not have you a dancer, yet, when you do dance, I 
would have you dance well, as I would have you do every- 
thingf vou do well. Thpiv* \<^ J\Q opp thinp Sf ^ trifling, bnt 

which} (if it is tn he rlnnp at nil) nnghf fn h f Hnnp Wf 11 

And I have often told you, that I wished you even played at 
pitch, and cricket, better than any boy at Westminster. For 
instance ; dress is a very foolish thing ; and yet it is a very 
foolish thing for a man not to be well dressed, according 
to his rank and way of life ; and it is so far from being a 
disparagement to any man's understanding, that it is rather 
a proof of it, to be as well dressed as those whom he lives 
with : the difference in this case, between a man of sense and 
a Jop, is T that the fop values himself upon his dress ; andjhe 
man of sense laughs at it, at the same time that he knows^be 
must not neglect it. There are a thousand foolish customs 



LETTERS TO HIS SOtf 1$ 

onhis kindj which not being criminal must be complied with, 
and even cheerfully, by men of sense. Diogenes the Cynic | 
was a wise man for despising them ; but a fool for showing! 
it. Be wiser than other people, if you can ; but do not tell 
them so. 

It is a very fortunate thing for Sir Charles Hotham to 
have fallen into the hands of one of your age, experience, 
and knowledge of the world ; I am persuaded you will take 
infinite care of him. Good-night. 



LETTER XI. 

DEAR BOY, Bath, October the 4th, O. S. 1746. 

THOUGH I employ so much of my time in writing to 
you, I confess I have often my doubts whether it is to 
any purpose. I know how unwelcome advice generally 
is ; I know that those who want it most like it and follow 
it least ; and I know, too, that the advice of parents, more 
particularly, is ascribed to the moroseness, the imperious- 
ness, or the garrulity of old age. But then, on the other 
hand, I flatter myself, that as your own reason (though 
too young as yet to suggest much to you of itself) is, 
however, strong enough to enable you both to judge of 
and receive plain truths: I flatter myself, I say, that 
your own reason, young as it is, must tell you that I can., 
have no interest but yonrf; in th arfvirf* T gi\T y^n ; and 
that, consequently, you will at least weigh and consider 
it well : in which case, some of it will, I hope, have its 
effect. Do not think that I mean to dictate as a parent ; 
I only mean to advise as a friend, and an indulgent one 



*o LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

too: and do not apprehend that I mean to check youi 
pleasures ; of which, on the contrary, I only desire to be 
the guide, not the censor. Let my experience supply 
your want of it, and clear your way in the progress of 
your youth of those thorns and briers which scratched 
and disfigured me in the course of mine. I do not, there- 
fore, so much as hint to you how absolutely dependent 
you are upon me ; that you neither have nor can have 
a shilling in the world but from me ; and that, as I have 
no womanish weakness for your person, your merit must 
and will be the only measure of my kindness. I say, 
I do not hint these things to you, because I am convinced 
that you will act right upon more noble and generous 
principles ; I mean, for the sake of doing right, and out 
of affection and gratitude to me. 

I have so often recommended to you attention and 
application to whatever you learn, that I do not mention 
them now as duties, but I point them out to you as 
conducive, nay, absolutely necessary, to your pleasures; 
for can there^ be a greater pleasure th an _to_he_yji i versal 1 y 
allowed to excel those of one's own age gn^ manner nf 
_life? And, consequently, can there be anything more 
mortifying than to be excelled by them ? In this latter 
case, your shame and regret must be greater than any- 
body's, because everybody knows the uncommon care 
which has been taken of your education, and the oppor- 
tunities you have had of knowing more than others of 
your age. I do not confine the application which T 
recommend, singly to the view and emulation of excelling 
ft, others (though that is a very sensible pleasure and a very 
I warrantable pride) L-buL I mean likewise to excel in the 
thing itself: for, in my mind, one may as well not know 
a thing at all, as know it but imperfectly. To know a little 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 21 

of anything, gives neither satisfaction nor credit, but often 
brings disgrace or ridicule. 
Mr. Pope says, very truly, 

" A little knowledge is a dangerous thing ; 
Drink deep, or taste not the Castalian spring." 

And what is called a smattering 01 everything infallibly 
constitutes a coxcomb. I have often, of late, reflected 
what an unhappy man I must now have been, if I had 
not acquired in my youth some fund and taste of learning. 
What could I have done with myself, at this age, with- 
out them? I must, as many ignorant people do, have 
destroyed my health and faculties by sotting away the 
evenings ; or, by wasting them frivolously in the tattle 
of women's company, must have exposed myself to the 
ridicule and contempt of those very women; or, lastly, 
I must have hanged myself, as a man once did, for 
weariness of putting on and pulling off his shoes and 
stockings every day. My books, and only my books, are 
now left me ; and I daily find what Cicero says of learning 
to be true : " Hac studio, (says he) adolescentiam aluni> 
senectutem oblectant, secundas res ornant^ adversis perfugium 
ac solatium prcebent^ delectant domt\ non impediunt fort's, 
pernoclant nobiscum, peregrinantur, rusticantur" 

I do not mean, by this, to exclude conversation out of 
the pleasures of an advanced age ; on the contrary, it is 
a very great and a very rational pleasure, at all ages ; but 
the conversation of the ignorant is no conversation, and 
gives ^even them no pleasure: they tire of their own 
sterility, and have not matter enough to furnish them 
with words to keep up a conversation. 

Let me. therefore, most earnestly rernmmend to you 
to hoard up, while you 



22 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

for tnough, during the dissipation of your youth, you 
may not have occasion to spend much of it, yet you 
may depend upon it that a time will come, when you 
will want it to maintain you. Public granaries are filled 
in plentiful years ; not that it is known that the next, 
or the second, or third year will prove a scarce one, but 
because it is known that sooner or later such a year will 
come, in which the grain will be wanted. 

I will say no more to you upon this subject ; you have 
Mr. Harte with you to enforce it ; you have Reason to 
assent to the truth of it ; so that, in short, " you have 
Moses and the Prophets ; if you will not believe them, 
neither will you believe, though one rose from the dead." 
Do not imagine that the knowledge, which I so much 
recommend to you, is confined to books, pleasing, useful, 
and necessary as that knowledge is : but I comprehend 
in it the grpf__knnw1pr|g p ^ ^ ynrlH, still moj^ per.PS-_ 
sary than that-flf books. In truth, they assist one another 
reciprocally ; and no man will have either perfectly, who 
has not both. The knowledge of the world is only to 
be acquired in the world, and not in a closet. Books 
alone will never teach it you ; but they will suggest many 
things to your observation, which might otherwise escape 
you ; and your own observations upon mankind, when 
compared with those which you will find in books, will 
help you to fix the true point. 

To know mankind well requires full as much attention 
and application as to know books, and, it may be, more 
sagacity and discernment. I am, at this time, acquainted 
with many elderly people, who have all passed their whole 
lives in the great world, but with such levity and in- 
attention, that they know no more of it now than they 
did at fifteen. Do not flatter yourself, therefore, with 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 23 

(he thoughts that you can acquire this knowledge in the 
frivolous chit-chat of idle companies : no, you must go 
much deeper than that. You must look into people, as well 
as at foem* Almost all people are born with all the 
passions, to a certain degree ; but almost every man has a 
prevailing one, to which the others are subordinate. Search 
every one for that ruling passion ; pry into the recesses of 
liis Tieart, and observe the different workings of the same 
passion in different people. A gjjhP n y nn havp fmH 
out thfi prevailing passion of any man, remember never to 
trust him, where that passion is concerned. Work upon 
him by it, if you please, but be upon your guard yourself 
against it, whatever professions he may make you. 

I would desire you to read this letter twice over, but 
ihat I much doubt whether you will read once to the end 
Df it. I will trouble you no longer now ; but we will have 
more upon this subject hereafter. Adieu. 

CHESTERFIELD 

I have this moment received your letter from Schaff- 
hausen : in the date of it you forgot the month. 



LETTER XII. 

DEAR BOY, Bath, October the 9th, O. S. 1746. 

YOUR distresses in your journey from Heidelberg to 
Schaffhausen, your lying upon straw, your black bread, and 
your broken Berlinc^ are proper seasonings for the greater 
fatigues and distresses, which you must expect in the 
course of your travels ; and, if one had a mind to moralise, 
one might call them the samples of the accidents, rubs, and 



24 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

difficulties, which every man meets with in his journey 
through life. In this journey, the__UjadrstaxadtQg is the 
voiturc that must carry you through; and in proportion 
as that is stronger or weaker, more or less in repair, your 
journey will be better or worse ; though, at best, you will 
now and then find some bad roads, and some bad inns. 
Take care, therefore, to keep that necessary voiture ic 
perfect good repair ; examine, improve, and strengthen it 
every day : it is in the power, and ought to be the care, of 
every man to do it ; he that neglects it deserves to feel, and 
certainly will feel, the fatal effects of that negligence. 

A propos of negligence ; I must say something to you 
upon that subject. You know I have often told you that 
my affection for you was not a weak, womanish one ; and, 
far from blinding me, it makes me but more quick-sighted 
as to your faults : those it is not only my right, but my 
duty, to tell you of, and it is your duty and your interest to 
correct them. In the strict scrutiny which I have made 
into you, I have (thank God) hitherto not discovered any 
vice of the heart, or any peculiar weakness of the head : 
but I have discovered laziness, inattention, &nd indifference ; 
faults which are only pardonable in old men, who, in the 
decline of life, when health and spirits fail, have a kind of 
claim to that sort of tranquillity. ^ut.a_yojing-maft should 
hfi nmhi'Hrms t^ Fihinft nnrl oTTfiftl ; alert, active, and inde- 
fatigable in the means of doing it ; and, like Caesar, Nil 
actum reputans^ si quid supcresset agendum. You seem to 
want that vivida vis animi which spurs and excites most 
young men to please, to shine, to excel. Withoutthe 
j dsire_arjr1 thp piins nrroncary to bo concidorablc, depend- 
I upon it you never can be so ; as, without the desire and 
attention necessary to please, you never can please. Nullum 
numen abest> si sit prudentia> is unquestionably true with 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 25 

regard to everything except poetry ; and I am very sure that 
any man of common understanding may, by proper culture, 
care, attention, and labour, make himself whatever he 
pleases except a good poet. Your destination is the greaa 
and busy world ; your immediate object is the affairs, tha 
interests, and the history, the constitutions, the customs, 
and the manners of the several parts of Europe. In this 
any man of common sense may, by common application, 
be sure to excel. Ancient and TVftndern History are, by 
attention, easily attainable. Geography and Chronology 
the same ; none of them requiring any uncommon share of 
genius or invention. Speaking and writing clearly, 
and with ease and 
reading the best authors with care, and by Attention tn tv>*> 
best u'ving_models. These are tfr^ gnp'lificatinns more 
particularly necessary for you in your department, which 
you may be possessed of if you please, and which, I tell 
you fairly, I shall be very angry at you if you are not ; 
because, as you have the means in your hands, it will be 
your own fault only. 

If care and application are necessary to the acquiring 
of those qualifications, without which you can never be 
considerable nor make a figure in the world, they are not 
less necessary with regard to the lesser accomplishments, 
which are requisite to make you agreeable and pleasing in 
society. In truth, whatever is worth doing at all is worth 
doing well, and nothing can be done well without attention : 
I therefore carry the necessity of attention down to the 
lowest things, even to dancing and dress. Custom has 
made dancing sometimes necessary for a young man; 
therefore mind it while you learn it, that you may learn to 
do it well, and not be ridiculous, though in a ridiculous act. 
Dress is of the same nature; you must dress, therefore 



26 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

attend to it ; not in order to rival or to excel a fop in it, 
but inj>rder to avoid singularity^nd consequently ridicule. 
Take great care always to be dressed like the reasonable 
people of your own age, in the place where you are, whose 
dress is never spoken of one way or another, as either too 
negligent or too much studied. 

What is commonly called an absent man, is commonly 
either a very weak or a very affected man ; but be he which 
he will, he is, I am sure, a very disagreeable man in com- 
pany. He fails in all the common offices of civility; he 
seems not to know those people to-day with whom yesterday 
he appeared to live in intimacy. He takes no part in the 
general conversation ; but, on the contrary, breaks into it 
from time to time with some start of his own, as if he waked 
from a dream. This (as I said before) is a sure indication 
Cither of a mind so weak that it is not able to bear above 
me object at a time; or so affected, that it would be 
supposed to be wholly engrossed by, and directed to, some 
very great and important objects. Sir Isaac Newton, 
Mr. Locke, and (it may be) five or six more, since the 
creation of the world, may have had a right to absence, 
from that intense thought which the things they were 
investigating required. But if a young man, and a man of 
the world, who has no such avocations to plead, will claim 
and exercise that right of absence in company, his pretended 
right should, in my mind, be turned into an involuntary 
absence, by his perpetual exclusion out of company. How- 
ever frivolous a company may be, still, while you are among 
them, do not show them, by your inattention, that you 
think them so ; but rather take their tone, and coaform in 
some degree to their weakness, instead of manifesting your 
contempt for them. There is nothing that people bear 
more impatiently, or forgive less, than contempt : and an 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 27 

injury is much sooner forgotten than an insult. If, therefore, 
you would rather please than offend, rather be well than ill 
spoken of, rather be loved than hated, remember to have 
that constant attention about yrm wfric,h flfltf prs p YPry man's 
little vanity; and the want of which, by mortifying his 
pride, never fails to excite his resentment, or at least his ill- 
wilL For instance ; most people (I might say all people) 
have their weaknesses ; they have their aversions and their 
likings, to such and such things ; so that, if you were to 
laugh at a man for his aversion to a cat, or cheese (which 
are common antipathies), or, by inattention and negligence, 
to let them come in his way where you could prevent it, 
he would, in the first case, think himself insulted, and, in 
the second, slighted, and would remember both. Whereas 
your care to procure for him what he likes, and to remove 
from him what he hates, shows him that he is at least an 
object of your attention; flutters hfa vanity anrj maVps him 
orA y niir /riV n(1, than a more important 



With regard to women, attentions still 
below these are necessary, and, by the custom of the world, 
in some measure due, according to the laws of good 
breeding. 

My long and frequent letters which I send you, in great 
doubt of their success, put me in mind of certain papers 
which you have very lately, and I formerly, sent up to kites, 
along the string, which we called messengers ; some of them 
the wind used to blow away, others were torn by the string, 
and but few of them got up and stuck to the kite. But 
I will content myself now, as I did then, if some of my 
present messengers do but stick to you. Adieu. 



28 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER XIII. 

DEAR BOY, London, December the 2nd, O. S. 1746. 

I HAVE not, in my present situation, time to write to you, 
either so much or so often as I used, while I was in a place 
of much more leisure and profit : but my affection for you 
must not be judged of by the number of my letters ; and T 
though the one lessens, the other, I assure you, does not. 

I have just now received your letter of the 25th past, 
N. S., and, by the former post, one from Mr. Harte, with 
both which I am very well pleased : with Mr. Harte's, for 
the good account which he gives me of you: with yours 
for the good account you give me of what I desired to b( 
informed of. Pray continue to give me further information 
of the form of government of the country you are now in ; 
which I hope you will know most minutely before you 
leave it. The inequality of the town of Lausanne seems to 
be very convenient in this cold weather ; because going up 
hill and down will keep you warm. You say there is a 
good deal of good company; pray, are you got into it? 

^Have you made acquaintances, and with whom ? Let me 

jknow some of their names. Do you learn German yet, to 

/read, write, and speak it? 

Yesterday, I saw a letter from Monsieur Bochat, to a 
friend of mine, which gave me the greatest pleasure that 
I have felt this great while, because it gives so very good 
an account of you. Among other things which Monsieur 
Bochat says to your advantage, he mentions the tender 
uneasiness and concern that you showed during my illness ; 
for which (though I will say that you owe it me) I am 

obliged to you ; sentiments of gratitude not being universal, 
nor even common. As your affection for me can only 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 29 

proceed from your experience and conviction of my fond 
ness for you (for to talk of natural affection is talking 
nonsense), thf nnly rfturn I de^'rft is, what it is chiefly 
tn maVf trip ; I mean, yonr invariable 



r>f Virfii^ and yniir JnHpfaHprahle pursuit of Knowledge. 
Adieu ! and be persuacTieoTthat I shall love you extremely 
jvhile you deserve it, but not one moment longer. 



LETTER XIV. 

DEAR BOY, London, December the Qth, O. S. 1746. 

THOUGH I have very little time, and though I write by 
this post to Mr. Harte, yet I cannot send a packet to 
Lausanne without a word or two to yourself. I thank you 
for your letter of congratulation which you wrote me, not- 
withstanding the pain it gave you. The accident that 
caused the pain was, I presume, owing to that degree of 
giddiness which I have sometimes taken the liberty to speak 
*o you of. The post I am now in, though the object of 
most people's views and desires, was in some degree 
inflicted upon me; and a certain concurrence of circum- 
stances obliged me to engage in it. But I feel that it 
requires more strength of body and mind than I have, to 
go through with it ; were you three or four years older, you 
should share in my trouble, and I would have taken you 
into my office ; but I hope you will employ those three or 
four years so well, as to make yourself capable of being of 
use to me, if I should continue in it so long. The read- 
ing, writing, and speaking the modern languages correctly ; 
the knowledge of the laws of nations, and the particular 

5 



30 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

constitution of the Empire; of History, Geography, and 
Chronology, are absolutely necessary to this business, for 
which I have always intended you. With these qualifica- 
tions, you may very possibly be my successor, though not 
my immediate one. 

I hope you employ your whole time, which few people 
do ; and that you put every moment to profit of some kind 
or other. I call company, walking, riding, etc., employing 
one's time, and, upon proper occasions, very usefully; but 
what I cannot forgive, in anybody, is sauntering, and doing 
nothing at all, with a thing so precious as time, and so 
irrecoverable when lost. 

Are you acquainted with any Ladies at Lausanne; and 
do you behave yourself with politeness enough to make 
them desire your company ? 

I must finish: God bless you ! 



LETTER XV. 

DEAR BOY, London, March the 6th, O. S. 1747. 

WHATEVER you do will always affect me very sensibly 
one way or another ; and I am now most agreeably affected 
by two letters which I have lately seen from Lausanne, 
upon your subject ; the one was from Madame St. Germain, 
the other from Monsieur Pampigny : they both give so 
good an account of you, that I thought myself obliged, in 
justice both to them and to you, to let you know it. Those 
who deserve a good character ought to have the satisfaction 
of knowing that they have it, both as a reward and as an 
encouragement. They write, that you are not only 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 31 

but tolerably well-bred ; and that the English crust of 
awkward bashfulness, shyness, and roughness (of which, by- 
the-by, you had your share), is pretty well rubbed off. I 
am most heartily glad of it ; for, as I have often told you, 
those lesser talents, of an engaging, insinuating manner, an 
easy good breeding, a genteel behaviour and jiddress T are of 
infinitfly mora advantage fhnr> t,hpy ar e generally thought to 
be, especially here in England. Virtue and learning, like 
gold, have their intrinsic value ; but if they are not polished, 
they certainly lose a great deal of their lustre: and even 
polished brass will pass upon more people than rough 
gold. What a number of sins does the cheerful, easy, good 
breeding of the French frequently cover ! Many of them 
want common sense, many more common learning ; but in 
general they make up so much by their manner for those 
defects, that frequently they pass undiscovered. I have 
often said, and do think, that a Frenchman, who, with 
ajund of virtue T learning, and good sense, has the manners! 
and ppod breeding of his rnnnfry. is Jbhe_jperfection of 
rjjjyyjaj^atuje. This perfection you may, if you please, and 
I hope you will, arrive at. You know what virtufijs : you 
may have it if you will ; it is in every man's power ; and 
miserable is the man who has it not. Good sense God has 
given you. Learn ing, you already possess enough of, to 
have, in a reasonable time, all that a man need have. 
With this you are thrown out early into the world, where it 
will be your own fault if you do not acquire all the other 
accomplishments necessary to complete and adorn your 
character. You will do well to make your compliments to 
Madame St. Germain and Monsieur Pampigny, and tell them 
how sensible you are of their partiality to you, in the 
advantageous testimonies which, you are informed, they 
have given of you here. 



32 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Adieu ! Continue to deserve such testimonies, and then 
you will not only deserve, but enjoy, my truest affection. 



LETTER XVI. 

DEAR BOY, London, March the 27th, O. S. 1747. 

PLEASURE is the rock which most young people split 
upon ; they launch out with crowded sails in quest of it, but 
without a compass to direct their course, or reason sufficient 
to steer the vessel; for want of which, pain and shame, 
instead of Pleasure, are the returns of their voyage. Do 
not think that I mean to snarl at Pleasure, like a Stoic, or 
to preach against it, like a Parson ; no, I mean to point it 
out, and recommend it to you, like an Epicurean : "Jewish 
you a great deal, and my only view is tn Kinder yrm fmm 
mistaking it. 

The character which most young men first aim at is, 
that of a Man of Pleasure; but they generally take it 
upon trust ; and instead of consulting their own taste and 
inclinations, they blindly adopt whatever those with whom 
they chiefly converse are pleased to call by the name of 
Pleasure; and a Man of Pleasure^ in the vulgar acceptation 
of that phrase, means only a beastly drunkard, an aban- 
doned whoremaster, and a profligate swearer and curser. 
As it may be of use to you, I am not unwilling, though at 
the same time ashamed, to own that the vices of my youth 
proceeded much more from my silly resolution of being 
what I heard called a Man of Pleasure, than from my 
own inclinations. I always naturally hated drinking; and 
yet I have often drunk, with disgust at the time, attended 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 33 

by great sickness the next day, only because I then con- 
sidered drinking as a necessary qualification for a fine 
gentleman and a Man of Pleasure. 

The same as to gaming. I did not want money, and 
consequently had no occasion to play for it; but I 
thought Play another necessary ingredient in the com- 
position of a Man of Pleasure, and accordingly I plunged 
into it without desire, at first; sacrificed a thousand real 
pleasures to it ; and made myself solidly uneasy by it, for 
thirty of the best years of my life. 

I was even absurd enough, for a little while, to swear, 
by way of adorning and completing the shining character 
which I affected; but this folly I soon laid aside upon 
finding both the guilt and the indecency of it. 

Thus seduced by fashion, and blindly adopting nominal 
pleasures, I lost real ones ; and my fortune impaired, and 
my constitution shattered, are, I must confess, the just 
punishment of my errors. 

Take warning, then, by them; choose your pleasures 
for yourself, and do not let them be imposed upon you. 
Follow nature, and not fashion : weigh the present enjoy- 
ment of your pleasures against the necessary consequences 

own common sense determine 



ygur r.hnire. 

Were I to begin the world again, with the experience 
which I now have of it, I would lead a life of real, not 
of imaginary pleasure. I would enjoy the pleasures of the 
table, and of wine; but stop short of the pains insepar- 
ably annexed to an excess in either. I would not, at 
twenty years, be a preaching missionary of abstemiousness 
and sobriety; and I should let other people do as they 
would, without formally and sententiously rebuking them 
for it ; but I would be most firmly resolved not to destroy 



34 LORD CHESTERFIELDS 

my own faculties and constitution in complaisance to those 
who have no regard to their own. I would play to give 
me pleasure, but not to give me pain; that is, I would 
play for trifles, in mixed companies, to amuse myself and 
conform to custom ; but I would take care not to venture 
for sums, which, if I won, I should not be the better for; 
but, if I lost, should be under a difficulty to pay; and, 
when paid, would oblige me to retrench in several other 
articles. Not to mention the quarrels which deep play 
commonly occasions. 

I would pass some of my time in reading, and the rest in 
the company of people of sense and learning, and chiefly 
those above me: and I would frequent the mixed com- 
panies of men and women of fashion, which though often 
frivolous, yet they unbend and refresh the mind, not use- 
lessly, because they certainly polish and soften the manners. 

These would be my pleasures and amusements, if I 
were to live the last thirty years over again; they are 
rational ones; and moreover I will tell you, they are 
really the fashionable ones : for the others are not, in 
truth, the pleasures of what I call people of fashion, 
but of those who only call themselves so. Does good 
company care to have a man reeling drunk among them ? 
Or to see another tearing his hair, and blaspheming, for 
having lost, at play, more than he is able to pay ? Or a 
whoremaster with half a nose, and crippled by coarse and 
infamous debauchery ? No ; those who practise, and much 
more those who brag of them, make no part of good 
company ; and are most unwillingly, if ever, admitted into 
it. A real man of fashion and pleasure observes decency; 
at least, neither borrows nor affects vices ; and, if he 
unfortunately has any, he gratifies them with choice 
delicacy, and secrecy. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 35 

I have not mentioned the pleasures of the mind (which 
are the solid and permanent ones), because they do not 
come under the head of what people commonly call 
pleasures, which they seem to confine to the senses. The 
pleasure of virtue, of charity, and of learning is true and 
lasting pleasure ; which I hope you will be well and long 
acquainted with. Adieu. 



LETTER XVII. 

DEAR BOY, London, April the 3rd, O. S. 1747. 

IF I am rightly informed, I am now writing to a fine 
Gentleman, in a scarlet coat laced with gold, a brocade 
waistcoat, and all other suitable ornaments. The natural 
partiality of every author for his own works, makes me very 
glad to hear that Mr. Harte has thought this last edition of 
mine worth so fine a binding ; and as he has bound it in 
red and gilt it upon the back, I hope he will take care that 
it shall be lettered too. A showish binding attracts the 
eyes, and engages the attention of everybody ; but with 
this difference, that women, and men who are like women, 
mind the binding more than the book; whereas men of 
sense and learning immediately examine the inside ; and if 
they find that it does not answer the finery on the outside, 
they throw it by with the greater indignation and contempt. 
I hope that when this edition of my works shall be opened 
and read, the best judges will find connection, consistency, 
solidity, and spirit in it. Mr. Harte may recensere and 
emendare as much as he pleases, but it will be to little pur- 
pose if you do not cooperate with him. The work will be 
imperfect. 



$6 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

I thank you for your last information of our success in 
the Mediterranean ; and you say, very rightly, that a Secre- 
tary of State ought to be well informed. I hope, therefore, 
you will take care that I shall. You are near the busy 
scene in Italy: and I doubt not but that, by frequently 
looking at the map, you have all that theatre of the war 
very perfect in your mind. 

I like your account of the salt works ; which shows that 
you gave some attention while you were seeing them. But, 
notwithstanding that, by your account, the Swiss salt is (I 
dare say) very good, yet I am apt to suspect that it falls a 
little short of the true Attic salt, in which there was a 
peculiar quickness and delicacy. That same Attic salt 
seasoned almost all Greece, except Boeotia j and a great 
deal of it was exported afterwards to Rome, where it was 
counterfeited by a composition called Urbanity, which in 
some time was brought to very near the perfection of the 
original Attic salt. The more you are powdered with these 
two kinds of salt, the better you will keep, and the more 
you will be relished. 

Adieu ! My compliments to Mr. Harte and Mr. Eliot. 



LETTER XVIII. 

DEAR BOY, London, April the I4th, O. S. 1747. 

IF you feel half the pleasure from the consciousness of 
doing well, that I do from the informations I have lately 
received in your favour from Mr. Harte, I shall have little 
occasion to exhort or admonish you any more, to do what 
your own satisfaction and self-love will sufficiently prompt 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 37 

you to. Mr. Harte tells me that you attend, that you 
apply to your studies ; and that, beginning to understand, 
you begin to taste them. This pleasure will increase and 
keep pace with your attention, so that the balance will be 
greatly to your advantage. You may remember, that I have 
always earnestly recommended to you, to do what you are 
about, be that what it will ; and to do nothing else at the 
same time. Do not imagine that I mean by this, that you 
should attend to, and plod at, your book all day long ; far 
from it : I mean that you should have your pleasures too ; 
and that you should attend to them, for the time, as much 
as to your studies; and if you do not attend equally to 
both, you will neither have improvement nor satisfaction 
from either. A man is fit for neither business nor pleasure 
who either cannot, or does not, command and direct his 
attention to the present object, and in some degree banish, 
for that time, all other objects from his thoughts. If at a 
ball, a supper, or a party of pleasure, a man were to be 
solving, in his own mind, a problem in Euclid, he would be 
a very bad companion, and make a very poor figure in that 
company ; or if, in studying a problem in his closet, he 
were to think of a minuet, I am apt to believe that he 
would make a very poor mathematician. There is time 
enough for everything, in the course of the day, if you do 
but one thing at once ; but there is not time enough in the 
year, if you will do two things at a time. The Pensionary 
de Witt, who was torn to pieces in the year 1672, did the 
whole business of the Republic, and yet had time left to go 
to assemblies in the evening, and sup in company. Being 
asked how he could possibly find time to go through so 
much business, and yet amuse himself in the evenings as 
he did ? he answered, There was nothing so easy ; for that 
it was only doing one thing at a time, and never putting off 



38 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

anything till to-morrow that could be done to-day. This 
steady and undissipated attention to one object is a sure 
mark of a superior genius ; as hurry, bustle, and agitation, 
are the never-failing symptoms of a weak and frivolous 
mind. When you read Horace, attend to the justness of 
his thoughts, the happiness of his diction, and the beauty 
of his poetry ; and do not think of Puffendorf de Homine et 
Give : and when you are reading Puffendorf, do not think 
of Madame de St. Germain ; nor of Puffendorf, when you 
are talking to Madame de St. Germain. 

Mr. Harte informs me, that he has reimbursed you part 
of your losses in Germany; and I consent to his reimburs- 
ing you the whole, now that I know you deserve it. I shall 
grudge you nothing, nor shall you want anything, that you 
desire, provided you deserve it: so that, you see, it is in 
your own power to have whatever you please. 

There is a little book which you read here with Monsieur 
Coderc, entitled, Maniere de bien penser dans les Outrages 
d'Esprit) written by Pere Bouhours. I wish you would 
read this book again, at your leisure hours ; for it will not 
only divert you, but likewise form your taste, and give 
you a just manner of thinking. Adieu ! 



LETTER XIX. 

DEAR BOY, London, June the 3Oth, O. S. 1747. 

I WAS extremely pleased with the account, which you 
gave me in your last, of the civilities that you received 
in your Swiss progress ; and I have wrote, by this post, to 
Mr. Burnaby, and to the Avoyer t to thank them for their 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 39 

parts.. If the attention you met with pleased you, as I dare 
say it did, you will, I hope, draw this general conclusion 
from it, That attention and civility please all those to whom 
they are paid ; and that you will please others, in proportion 
as you are attentive and civil to them. 

Bishop Burnet has wrote his travels through Switzerland ; 
and Mr. Stanyan, from a long residence there, has written 
the best account, yet extant, of the thirteen Cantons ; but 
those books will be read no more, I presume, after you 
shall have published your account of that country. I hope 
you will favour me with one of the first copies. To be 
serious; though I do not desire that you should imme- 
diately turn author, and oblige the world with your travels ; 
yet, wherever you go, I would have you as curious and 
inquisitive as if you did intend to write them. I do not 
mean that you should give yourself so much trouble, to 
know the number of houses, inhabitants, signposts, and 
tombstones of every town that you go through; but that 
you should inform yourself, as well as your stay will permit 
you, whether the town is free, or whom it belongs to, or in 
what manner; whether it has any peculiar privileges or 
customs ; what trade or manufactures ; and such other 
particulars as people of sense desire to know. And there 
would be no manner of harm, if you were to take memoran- 
dums of such things in a paper book to help your memory. 
The only way of knowing all these things is, to keep the 
best company, who can best inform you of them. 

I am just now called away ; so good-night 1 



40 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER XX. 

DEAR BOY, London, July the 2Oth, O. S. 1747- 

IN your Mamma's letter, which goes here enclosed, you 
will find one from my sister, to thank you for the Arque- 
busade water which you sent her, and which she takes very 
kindly. She would not show me her letter to you ; but told 
me that it contained good wishes and good advice ; and, as 
I know she will show your letter in answer to hars, I send 
you here enclosed the draught of the letter which I would 
have you write to her. I hope you will not be offended at 
my offering you my assistance upon this occasion : because, 
I presume, that as yet you are not much used to write to 
Ladies. A propos of letter-writing ; the best models that 
you can form yourself upon, are Cicero, Cardinal d'Ossat, 
Madame Sevigne', and Comte Bussy Rabutin. Cicero's 
Epistles to Atticus, and to his familiar friends, are the best 
examples that you can imitate, in the friendly and the 
familiar style. The simplicity and clearness of Cardinal 
d'Ossat's letters, show how letters of business ought to be 
written: no affected turns, no attempt at wit, obscure or 
perplex his matter ; which is always plainly and clearly 
stated, as business always should be. For gay and amus- 
ing letters, for enjouement and badinage, there are none that 
equal Comte Bussy's and Madame Sevignd's. They are so 
natural, that they seem to be the extempore conversations of 
two people of wit, rather than letters ; which are commonly 
studied, though they ought not to be so. I would advise 
you to let that book be one in your itinerant library ; it will 
both amuse and inform you. 

I have not time to add any more now ; so good-night. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 41 



LETTER XXI. 

DEAR BOY, London, July the soth, O. S. 1747. 

IT is now four posts since I have received any letter, 
either from you or from Mr. Harte. I impute this to 
the rapidity of your travels through Switzerland ; which I 
suppose are by this time finished. 

You will have found by my late letters, both to you and 
to Mr. Harte, that you are to be at Leipsig by next 
Michaelmas, where you will be lodged in the house of 
Professor Mascow, and boarded in the neighbourhood of 
it, with some young men of fashion. The Professor will 
read you lectures upon Grotius de Jure Belli et Pads, the 
Institutes of Justinian, and the Jus Publicum Imperil ; 
which I expect that you shall not only hear but attend to, 
and retain. I also expect that you make yourself perfectly 
master of the German language, which you may very soon 
do there if you please. I give you fair warning, that at 
Leipsig I shall have a hundred invisible spies about you; 
and shall be exactly informed of everything that you do, 
and of almost everything that you say. I hope that, in con- 
sequence of those minute informations, I may be able to 
say of you, what Velleius Paterculus says of Scipio; that 
in his whole life, nihil non laudandum aut dixit, aut fecit, 
aut sensit. There is a great deal of good company in 
Leipsig, which I would have you frequent in the evenings, 
when the studies of the day are over. There is likewise 
a kind of Court kept there by a Duchess Dowager of 
Courland ; at which you should get introduced. The King 
of Poland and his Court go likewise to the fair at Leipsig, 
twice a year; and I shall write to Sir Charles Williams, 
the King's Minister there, to have you presented, and 



42 LORD CHESTERFIELD* S 

introduced into good company. But I must remind you, at 
the same time, that it will bft to v^ry b'Uk purpose for y n " 
to frequent good company, if yon Ho not- rnnfnrm t.n. and 
learn their manners ^ if YOU, are not attentive to please, and 
well bred wjth the easiness of a man of fashion. As you 
must attend to your manners, so you must not neglect your 
person; but take care to be very clean, well dressed, and 
genteel; to have no disagreeable attitudes, nor awkward 
tricks; which many people use themselves to, and then 
cannot leave them off. Do you take care to keep your 
teeth very clean, by washing them constantly every morn- 
ing, and after every meal ? This is very necessary, both to 
preserve your teeth a great while, and to save you a great 
deal of pain. Mine have plagued me long, and are now 
falling out, merely for want of care when I was of your age. 
Do you dress well, and not too well? Do you consider 
your air and manner of presenting yourself enough, and not 
too much? neither negligent nor stiff. All these things 
deserve a degree of care, a second-rate attention ; they give 
an additional lustre to real merit. My Lord Bacon says, 
that a pleasing figure is a perpetual letter of recommenda- 
tion. It is certainly an agreeable forerunner of merit, and 
smooths the way for it. 

Remember that I shall see you at Hanover next summer, 
and .shall- expect perfection ; which if I do not meet with, 
or at least"something very near it, you and I shall not be 
very well together. I shall dissect and analyze you with 
a microscope, so that I shall discover the least speck 
or blemish. This is fair warning; therefore take your 
measures accordingly. Yours. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON, 43 

LETTER XXII. 

DEAR BOY, London, August the 7th, O. S. 1747. 

I RECKON that this letter has but a bare chance of 
finding you at Lausanne; but I was resolved to risk it, 
as it is the last that I shall write to you till you are settled 
at Leipsig. I sent you by the last post, under cover to Mr. 
Harte, a letter of recommendation to one of the first people 
at Munich ; which you will take care to present to him in 
the politest manner: he will certainly have you presented 
to the Electoral family; and I hope you will go through 
that ceremony with crfint r^sn^rit. ^ond. hrfinrHnfy rind 



As this is the first Court that ever you will have 
been at, take care to inform yourself, if there be any 
particular customs or forms to be observed, that you may 
not commit any mistake. At Vienna, men always make 
courtesies, instead of bows, to the Emperor; in France, 
nobody bows at all to the King, nor kisses his hand ; but in 
Spain and England, bows are made, and hands are kissed. 
Thus every Court has some peculiarity or other, which 
those who go to them ought previously to inform them- 
selves of, to avoid blunders and awkwardnesses. 

I have not time to say any more now, than to wish you a 
good journey to Leipsig; and great attention, both there 
and in going thither. Adieu. 



LETTER XXIII. 

DEAR BOY, London, October the Qth, O. S. 1747. 

PEOPLE of your age have commonly an unguarded 
frankness about them, which makes them the easy prey and 



44 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

bubbles of the artful and the experienced : they look upon 
every knave, or fool, who tells them that he is their friend, 
to be really so; and pay that profession of simulated 
friendship with an indiscreet and unbounded confidence, 
always to their loss, often to their ruin. Beware, therefore, 
now that you are coming into the world, of these proffered 
friendships. Receive them with great civility, but with 
great inrrprlnlity foo^ and pay thpm with ^pmpliments, 
fyif nr>f with rrmfirlpnrg Do not let your vanity and self- 
love make you suppose that people become your friends 
at first sight, or even upon a short acquaintance. Real 
friendship is a slow grower; and never thrives, unless 
ingrafted upon a stock of known and reciprocal merit. 
There is another kind of nominal friendship, among young 
people, which is warm for the time, but, by good luck, of 
short duration. This friendship is hastily produced by 
their being accidentally thrown together, and pursuing the 
same course of riot and debauchery. A fine friendship, 
truly ! and well cemented by drunkenness and lewdness. 
It should rather be called a conspiracy against morals and 
good manners, and be punished as such by the civil 
Magistrate. However, they have the impudence and the 
folly to call this confederacy a friendship. They lend one 
another money for bad purposes ; they engage in quarrels, 
offensive and defensive, for their accomplices; they tell 
one another all they know, and often more too ; when, of 
a sudden, some accident disperses them, and they think no 
more of each other, unless it be to betray and laugh at 
their imprudent confidence. Remember to make a great 
difference between companions and friends ; for a very 
complaisant and agreeable companion may, and often does, 
prove a very improper and a very dangerous friend. People 
will, in a great degree, and not without reason, form their 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 45 

opinion of you upon that which they have of your friends; 
and there is a Spanish proverb, which says very justly, Tell 
me whom you live with, and I will tell you who you are. 
One may fairly suppose that a man who makes a knave 
or a fool his friend, has something very bad to do, or to 
conceal. But, at the same time that you carefully decline 
the friendship of knaves and fools, if it can be called 
friendship, thgrf* ii no fMTffnnimi tn mnkp pithpr of them 
yr>iir pnpmips, wantonly and unprovoked; for they are 

numerous bodie g ; ? n ^ T 



neutrality, than alliance or war, with either of them. You 
may be a declared enemy to their vices and follies, with- 
out being marked out by them as a personal one. Their 
Hangprnim thing to their friendship. 



Have a real reserve with almost everybody; and have a 
seeming reserve with almost nobody ; for it is very disagree- 
able to seem reserved, and very dangerous not to be so. 
Few people find the true medium ; many are ridiculously 
mysterious and reserved upon trifles; and many impru- 
dently communicative of all they know. 

The next thing to the choice of your friends is the choice 
of your company. Endeavour, as much as you can, to 
keep company wi>h p^pl^ phnvp you. There you rise, as 
much as you sink with people below you ; for (as I have 
mentioned before) you are whatever the company you keep 
is. Do not mistake, when I say company above you, and 
think that I mean with regard to their birth ; that is the 
least consideration : bull mean with regard to their merit, 
and the Hfiht in. wh|jr^ ^ wnrlrl rnnsirters fhprq. 

There are two sorts of good company; one which is 
called the beau monde, and consists of those people who 
have the lead in Courts, and in the gay part of life; the 
other consists of those who are distinguished by some 

6 



46 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

peculiar merit, or who excel in some particular and valuable 
art or science. For my own part, I used to think myself 
in company as much above me, when I was with Mr. 
Addison and Mr. Pope, as if I had been with all the princes 
in Europe. What I mean by low company, which should 
by all means be avoided, is the company of those who, 
absolutely insignificant and contemptible in themselves, 
think they are honoured by being in your company, and 
who flatter every vice and every folly you have, in order 
to engage you to converse with them. The pride of being 
the first of the company is but too common ; but it is 
very silly, and very prejudicial. Nothing in the world lets 
down a character more than that wrong turn. 

You may possibly ask me whether a man has it always in 
his power to get into the best company ? and how ? I say, 
Yes, he has, by deserving it ; provided he is but in circum- 
stances which enable him to appear upon the footing of a 
gentleman. Merit and good breeding will make their way 
everywhere. Knowledge will introduce him, and good 
brrrrling will rnrlnnr hirjL to the best companies; for, as 
I have often told you, politeness and good breeding are 
absolutely necessary to adorn any or all other good qualities 
or talents. Without them, no knowledge, no perfection 
whatsoever, is seen in its best light. The Scholar, without 
good breeding, is a Pedant ; the Philosopher, a Cynic ; the 
Soldier, a Brute ; and every man disagreeable. 

I long to hear from my several correspondents at Leipsig, 
of your arrival there, and what impression you make on 
them at first; for I have Arguses, with a hundred eyes 
each, who will watch you narrowly, and relate to me faith- 
fully. My accounts will certainly be true ; it depends upon 
you entirely of what kind they shall be. Adieu. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 47 



LETTER XXIV. 

DEAR BOY, London, October the i6th O. S. 1747. 

THE art flf p^a^f is a very necessary one to possess, fa J ILU^J 
but a very difficult one to acquire. It can hardly 
reduced to rules, and your own good sense and observation 
will teach you more of it than I can. Do as you would be 
done by is the surest method that I know of pleasing. 
Observe carefully what pleases you in others, and probably 
the same things in you will please others. If you are 
pleased with the complaisance and attention of others to 
your humours, your tastes, or your weaknesses, depend 
upon it the same complaisance and attention on your part 
to theirs, will equally please them. Take the tone of the 
company that you are in, and do not pretend to give it ; be 
serious, gay, or even trifling, as you find the present humour 
of the company ; this is an attention due from every 
individual to the majority. Do not tell stories in company : 
there is nothing more tedious and disagreeable: if by 
chance you know a very short story, and exceedingly 
applicable to the present subject of conversation, tell it 
in as few words as possible ; and even then throw out that 
you do not love to tell stories, but that the shortness of it 
tempted you. Of all things, hn.nish egotism out of your 
^pyprgatmn, and never think of entertaining people with 
your own personal concerns or private affairs ; though 
they are interesting to you, they are tedious and impertinent 
to everybody else : besides that, one cannot keep one's 
own private affairs too secret Whatever you think your 
own excellencies may be, do not affectedly display them in 
company; nor labour, as many people do, to give that 
turn to the conversation which may supply you with an 



48 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

opportunity of exhibiting them. If they are real, they will 
infallibly be discovered without your pointing them out 
yourself, and with much more advantage. Never maintain 
an argument with heat and clamour, though you think or 
know yourself to be in the right ; but give your opinion 
modestly and coolly, which is the only way to convince; 
and if that does not do, try to change the conversation, by 
saying, with good humour, " We shall hardly convince one 
another, nor is it necessary that we should, so let us talk of 
something else." 

Remember that there is a local propriety to be observed 
in all companies \ and that what is extremely proper in 
one company may be, and often is, highly improper in 
another. 

The jokes, the bons mots, the little adventures, which 
may do very well in one company, will seem flat and 
tedious when related in another. The particular characters, 
the habits, the cant of one company may give merit to a 
word, or a gesture, which would have none at all if divested 
of those accidental circumstances. Here people very com- 
monly err ; and fond of something that has entertained 
them in one company, and in certain circumstances, repeat 
it with emphasis in another, where it is either insipid, or, it 
may be, offensive, by being ill-timed or misplaced. Nay, 
they often do it with this silly preamble ; " I will tell you 
an excellent thing ; " or, " I will tell you the best thing in 
the world." This raises expectations, which when absolutely 
disappointed, make the relator of this excellent thing look, 
very deservedly, like a fool. 

If you would particularly gain the affection and friendship 
of particular people, whether men or women, endeavour to 
find out their predominant excellency, if they have one, and 
their prevailing weakness, which everybody has ; and do 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 49 

justice to the one, and something more than justice to the 
other. Men have various objects in which they may excel, 
or at least would be thought to excel ; and though they love 
to hear justice done to them where they know that they 
excel, yet they are most and best flattered upon those points 
where they wish to excel, and yet are doubtful whether 
they do or not. As, for example, Cardinal Richelieu, who 
was undoubtedly the ablest Statesman of his time, or 
perhaps of any other, had the idle vanity of being thought 
the best Poet too ; he envied the great Corneille his 
reputation, and ordered a criticism to be written upon the 
Cid. Those, therefore, who flattered skilfully, said little 
to him of his abilities in state affairs, or at least but en 
passant, and as it might naturally occur. But the incense 
which they gave him, the smoke of which they knew would 
turn his head in their favour, was as a bel esprit and a 
Poet. Why ? Because he was sure of one excellency, 
and distrustful as to the other. You will easily discover 
every man's prevailing vanity by observing his favourite 
topic of conversation, for every man talks most of what he 
has most a mind to be thought to excel in. Touch him 
but there, and you touch him to the quick. The late Sir 
Robert Walpole (who was certainly an able man) was little 
open to flattery upon that head, for he was in no doubt 
himself about it ; but his prevailing weakness was to be 
thought to have a polite and happy turn to gallantry, of 
which he had undoubtedly less than any man living : it was 
his favourite and frequent subject of conversation, which 
proved to those who had any penetration that it was his 
prevailing weakness. And they applied to it with success. 

Women have in general but one object, which is their 
beauty; upon which scarce any flattery is too gross for 
them to follow. Nature has hardly formed a woman ugly 



50 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

enough to be insensible to flattery upon her person ; if her 
face is so shocking, that she must in some degree be 
conscious of it, her figure and her air, she trusts, make 
ample amends for it. If her figure is deformed, her face, 
she thinks, counterbalances it. If they are both bad, she 
comforts herself that she has graces, a certain manner, a 
je ne sfais quoi^ still more engaging than beauty. This 
truth is evident, from the studied and elaborate dress of 
the ugliest women in the world. An undoubted, uncon- 
tested, conscious beauty is, of all women, the least sensible 
of flattery upon that head ; she knows it is her due, and is 
therefore obliged to nobody for giving it her. She must 
be flattered upon her understanding; which, though she 
may possibly not doubt of herself, yet she suspects that men 
may distrust. 

Do not mistake me, and think that I mean to recommend 
| to you abject and criminal flattery: no, flatter nobody's 
vices or crimes ; on the contrary, abhor and discourage 
[them. But there is no living in the world without a com- 
plaisant indulgence for people's weaknesses, and innocent, 
though ridiculous vanities. If a man has a mind to be 
thought wiser, and a woman handsomer, than they really 
are, their error is a comfortable one to themselves, and an 
innocent one with regard to other people; and I would 
rather make them my friends by indulging them in it, than 
my enemies by endeavouring (and that to no purpose) to 
undeceive them. 

There are little attentions, likewise, which are infinitely 
engaging, and which sensibly affect that degree of pride and 
self-love, which is inseparable from human nature, as they 
are unquestionable proofs of the regard and consideration 
which we have for the persons to whom we pay them. As, 
for example, to observe the little habits, the likings, the 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 51 

antipathies, and the tastes of those whom we would gain ; 
/and 'then take care to provide them with the one, and to 
(secure them from the other; giving them, genteelly, to 
understand, that you had observed they liked such a dish, 
or such a room, for which reason you had prepared it : or, 
on the contrary, that having observed they had an aversion 
to such a dish, a dislike to such a person, etc., you had 
taken care to avoid presenting them. Such attention to 
such trifles flatters self-love much more than greater things, 
as it makes people think themselves almost the only objects 
of your thoughts and care. 

These are some of the arcana necessary for your initiation 
in the great society of the world. I wish I had known them 
better at your age ; I have paid the price of three and fifty 
years for them, and shall not grudge it if you reap the 
advantage. Adieu. 



LETTER XXV. 

DEAR BOY, London, December the llth, O. S. 1747. 

THERE is nothing which I more wish that you should 
know, and which fewer people do know, than the true use 
and value of Time. It is in everybody's mouth, but in few 
people's practice. Every fool, who slatterns away his whole 
time in nothings, utters, however, some trite commonplace 
sentence, of which there are millions, to prove at once the 
value and the fleetness of time. The sun-dials, likewise, all 
over Europe, have some ingenious inscription to that effect ; 
so that nobody squanders away their time without hearing 
and seeing daily how necessary it is to employ it well, and 



52 LORD CHESTERFIELD* S 

how irrecoverable it is if lost. Bjit nil rhpsp 



are useless, where there is not a f^nd nf gnof| 
rppsnn to suggest them, rather than receive them. T5y the 
manner in which you now tell me that you employ your 
time, I flatter myself that you have that fund : that is the 
fund which will make you rich indeed. I do not, therefore, 
mean to give you a critical essay upon the use and abuse of 
time ; I will only give you some hints with regard to the use 
of one particular period of that long time which, I hope, 
you have before you; I mean the next two years. 
Remember, then, that whatever knowledge you do not 
solidly lay the foundation of before you are eighteen, you 
will never be master of while you breathe. Knowledge is a 
comfortable and necessary retreat and shelter for us in an 
advanced age ; and if we do not plant it while young, 
it will give us no shade when we grow old. I neither 
require nor expect from you great application to books, 
after you are once thrown out into the great world. I know 
it is impossible ; and it may even, in some cases, be 
improper : this, therefore, is your time, and your only time, 
for unwearied and uninterrupted application. _If_^ou_ should 

smTTgtirnes think it a 1i>j-1eUaJwrrnn<t r -^n^ is 

the unavoidable fatigue of a^aecessary 4ourney^-__The, more 
hours a day you travel T the noon^r yonwill be at your 
journey's end. The sooner you are quaTIHect for your 
liberty, the sooner you shall have it ; and your manumission 
will entirely depend upon the manner in which you employ 
the intermediate time. I think I offer you a very good 
bargain, when I promise you, upon my word, that if you 
will do everything that I would have you do, till you are 
eighteen, I will do everything that you would have me do, 
ever afterwards. 

I knc\v a gentleman who was so good a manager of his 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 53 

time, that he would not even lose that small portion of it 
which the calls of nature obliged him to pass in the 
necessary-house ; but gradually went through all the Latin 
Poets in those moments. He bought, for example, a 
common edition of Horace, of which he tore off gradually a 
couple of pages, carried them with him to that necessary 
place, read them first, and then sent them down as a 
sacrifice to Cloacina : this was so much time fairly gained ; 
and I recommend to you to follow his example. It is 
better than only doing what you cannot help doing at 
those moments ; and it will make any book which you shall 
read in that manner very present in your mind. Books of 
science, and of a grave sort, must be read with continuity ; 
but there are very many, and even very useful ones, which 
may be read with advantage by snatches, and uncon- 
nectedly : such are all the good Latin Poets, except Virgil 
in his ^Eneid ; and such are most of the modern poets, in 
which you will find many pieces worth reading, that will not 
take up above seven or eight minutes. Bayle's, Moreri's, 
and other dictionaries are proper books to take and shut up 
for the little intervals of (otherwise) idle time, that every- 
body has in the course of the day, between either their 
studies or their pleasures. Good-night 



LETTER XXVI. 

DEAR BOY, January the 2nd, O. S. 1748. 

I AM edified with the allotment of your time at Leipsig ; 
which is so well employed from morning till night, that a 
fool would say, you had none left for yourself; whereas, I 



54 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

am sure, you have sense enough to know that such a 
right use of your time is having it all to yourself; nay, it 
is even more, for it is laying it out to immense interest ; 
which in a very few years will amount to a prodigious 
capital. 

Though twelve of your fourteen Commensaux may not be 
the liveliest people in the world, and may want (as I easily 
conceive they do) le ton de la bonne compagnie, ft les gr&ces, 
which I wish you, yet pray take care not to express any 
contempt, or throw out any ridicule ; wjiirh, T ran assure 
jmn, is not- mnrp rnnfrnry tn gnnH manners than to good 
sense,: but endeavour rather to get all the good you can 
out of them ; and something or other is to be got out of 
everybody. They will, at least, improve you in the German 
language ; and, as they come from different countries, you 
may put them upon subjects, concerning which they must 
necessarily be able to give you some useful informations, let 
them be ever so dull or disagreeable in general : they will 
know something, "at least, of the laws, customs, government, 
and considerable families of their respective countries ; all 
which are better known than not, and consequently worth 
inquiring into. There is hardly anybody good for every- 
thing, and there is scarcely anybody who is absolutely good 
for nothing. A good chymist will extract some spirit or 
other out of every substance ; and a man of parts will, 
by his dexterity and management, elicit something worth 
knowing out of every being he converses with. 

As you have been introduced to the Duchess of 
Courland, pray go there as often as ever your more 
necessary occupations will allow you. I am told she is 
extremely well bred, and has parts. Now, though I would 
not recommend to you to go into women's company in 
search of solid knowledge or judgment, yet it has its use in 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 55 

other respects ; for it certainly polishes the manners, and 
gives une certain tournure^ which is very necessary in the 
course of the world ; and which Englishmen have generally 
less of than any people in the world. 

I cannot say that your suppers are luxurious, but you 
must own they are solid ; and a quart of soup and two 
pounds of potatoes will enable you to pass the night 
without great impatience for your breakfast next morning. 
One part of your supper (the potatoes) is the constant diet 
of my old -friends and countrymen, the Irish, who are the 
healthiest and the strongest men that I know in Europe. 

As I believe that many of my letters to you and to Mr. 
Harte have miscarried, as well as some of yours and his 
to me, particularly one of his from Leipsig, to which he 
refers in a subsequent one, and which I never received, I 
would have you, for the future, acknowledge the dates of all 
the letters which either of you shall receive from me ; and I 
will do the same on my part. 

That which I received by the last mail from you was of 
the 25th November, N.S. ; the mail before that brought me 
yours, of which I have forgot the date, but which enclosed 
one to Lady Chesterfield : she will answer it soon, and in 
the meantime, thanks you for it. 

My disorder was only a very great cold, of which I am 
entirely recovered. You shall not complain for want of 
accounts from Mr. Grevenkop, who will frequently write 
you whatever passes here, in the German language and 
character : which will improve you in both. Adieu. 



56 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER XXVII. 

DEAR BOY, London, January the 15th, O. S. 1748. 

I WILLINGLY accept the New Year's gift which you 
promise me for next year ; and the more valuable you make 
it, the more thankful I shall be. That depends entirely 
upon you ; and therefore I hope to be presented every year 
with a new edition of you, more correct than the former, 
and considerably enlarged and amended. 

Since you do not care to be an Assessor of the Imperial 
Chamber, and desire an establishment in England, what do 
you think of being Greek Professor at one of our Univer- 
sities ? It is a very pretty sinecure, and requires very little 
knowledge (much less than, I hope, you have already) of that 
language. If you do not approve of this, I am at a loss to 
know what else to propose to you : and therefore desire that 
you will inform me what sort of destination you propose 
for yourself: for it is now time to fix it, and to take our 
measures accordingly. Mr. Harte tells me, that you set up 
for a IIoAiTi/cos avrjp ; if so, I presume it is in the view of 
succeeding me in my office; which I will very willingly 
resign to you, whenever you shall call upon me for it. 
But, if you intend to be the HoAmKos or the BvA^o/oos 
ai/r/p, there are some trifling circumstances upon which you 
should previously take your resolution. The first of which 
is, to be fit for it ; and then, in order to be so, make yourself 
master of Ancient and Modern History, and Languages. To 
know perfectly the constitution and form of government of 
every nation ; the growth and the decline of ancient and 
modern Empires; and to trace out and reflect upon the 
causes of both. To know the strength, the riches, and the 
commerce of every country. These little things, trifling as 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 57 

they may seem, are yet very necessary for a Politician to 
know ; and which therefore, I presume, you will condescend 
to apply yourself to. There are some additional qualifica 
tions necessary in the practical part of business, which may 
deserve some consideration in your leisure moments ; such 
as an absolute command of your temper, so as not to be 
provoked to passion upon any account: Patience to hear 
frivolous, impertinent, and unreasonable applications ; with 
address enough to refuse, without offending; or by your 
manner of granting, to double the obligation : Dexterity 
enough to conceal a truth without telling a lie: Sagacity 
enough to read other people's countenances : and Serenity 
enough not to let them discover anything by yours ; a 
seeming frankness, with a real reserve. These are the 
rudiments of a Politician ; the world must be your grammar. 
Three mails are now due from Holland ; so that I have no 
letters from you to acknowledge. I therefore conclude with 
recommending myself to your favour and protection, when 
you succeed, Yours. 



LETTER XXVIII. 

DEAR BOY, London, February the I3th, O. S. 1748. 

YOUR last letter gave me a very satisfactory account of 
your manner of employing your time at Leipsig. Go on so 
but for two years more, and I promise you, that you will 
outgo all the people of your age and time. I thank you 
for your explication of the Schriftsassen and Amptsassen; and 
pray let me know the meaning of the Landsassen. I am 
very willing that you should take a Saxon servant, who 
speaks nothing but German ; which will be a sure way of 
keeping up your German after you leave Germany. But 



58 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

then, I would neither have that man, nor him whom you 
have already, put out of livery, which makes them both 
impertinent and useless. I am sure that, as soon as you 
shall have taken the other servant, your present man will 
press extremely to be out of livery, and valet de chambre ; 
which is as much as to say, that he will curl your hair, and 
shave you, but not condescend to do anything else. I 
therefore advise you never to have a servant out of livery ; 
and though you may not always think proper to carry the 
servant who dresses you, abroad in the rain and dirt, behind 
a coach or before a chair, yet keep it in your power to do 
so, if you please, by keeping him in livery. 

I have seen Monsieur and Madame Flemming, who give 
me a very good account of you, and of your manners; 
which, to tell you the plain truth, were what I doubted of 
the most. She told me that you were easy, and not 
ashamed ; which is a great deal for an Englishman at your 
age. 

I set out for the Bath to-morrow, for a month; only to 
be better than well, and to enjoy, in quiet, the liberty 
which I have acquired by the resignation of the seals. 
You shall hear from me more at large from thence ; and 
now good-night to you. 



LETTER XXIX. 

DEAR BOY, Bath, February the i6th, O. S. 1748. 

THE first use that I made of my liberty was to come 
hither, where I arrived yesterday. My health, though not 
fundamentally bad, yet for want of proper attention of late 
wanted some repairs, which these waters never fail giving it 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 59 

I shall drink them a month, and return to London, there to 
enjoy the comforts of social life, instead of groaning under 
the load of business. I have given the description of the 
life that I propose to lead for the future, in this motto, 
which I have put up in the frize of my library in my new 
house : 

Nunc veterum libris, nunc somno, et inertibus horis 

Ducere sollicitae jucunda oblivia vitaa. 

I must observe to you, upon this occasion, that the 
uninterrupted satisfaction which I expect to find in that 
library, will be chiefly owing to my having employed some 
part of my life well at your age. I wish I had employed it 
better, and my satisfaction would now be complete; but, 
however, I planted, while young, that degree of knowledge 
which is now my refuge and my shelter. Make your 
plantations still more extensive, they will more than pay 
you for your trouble. I do not regret the time that I 
passed in pleasures ; they were seasonable, they were the 
pleasures of youth, and I enjoyed them while young. If I 
had not, I should probably have overvalued them now, as 
we are very apt to do what we do not know : but, knowing 
them as I do, I know their real value, and how much they 
are generally overrated. Nor do I regret the time that I 
have passed in business, for the same reason ; those who 
see only the outside of it imagine that it has hidden 
charms, which they pant after ; and nothing but acquaint- 
ance can undeceive them. I, who have been behind the 
scenes, both of pleasure and business, and have seen all 
the springs and pullies of those decorations which astonish 
and dazzle the audience, retire, not only without regret, but 
with contentment and satisfaction. But what I do and 
ever shall regret, is the time which, while young, I lost in 
mere idleness and in doing nothing. This is the common 



60 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

effect of the inconsideracy of youth, against which I beg 
you will be most carefully upon your guard. The value of 
moments, when cast up, is immense, if well employed ; if 
thrown away, their loss is irrecoverable. Every moment 
may be put to some use, and that with much more pleasure 
than if unemployed. Do not imagine that, by the employ- 
ment of time, I mean an uninterrupted application to 
serious studies. No ; pleasures are, at proper times, both 
as necessary and as useful : they fashion and form you for 
the world ; they teach you characters, and show you the 
human heart in its unguarded minutes. But, then, remem- 
ber to make that use of them. I have known many people, 
from laziness of mind, go through both pleasure and 
business with equal inattention ; neither enjoying the one, 
nor doing the other ; thinking themselves men of pleasure, 
because they were mingled with those who were ; and men 
of business, because they had business to do, though they 
did not do it. Whatever you do, do it to the purpose ; do 
it thoroughly, not superficially. Approfondissez ; go to the 
bottom of things. Anything half done, or half known, is, 
in my mind, neither done nor known at all. Nay worse, 
for it often misleads. There is hardly any place, or any 
company, where you may not gain knowledge if you please ; 
almost everybody knows some one thing, and is glad to 
talk upon that one thing. Seek and you will find, in this 
world as well as in the next. See everything, inquire into 
everything ; and you may excuse your curiosity, and the 
questions you ask, which otherwise might be thought 
impertinent, by your manner of asking them; for most 
things depend a great deal upon the manner. As, for 
example, / am afraid that I am very troublesome with my 
questions ; but nobody can inform me so well as you ; or 
something of that kind. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 61 

Now that you are in a Lutheran country, go to their 
churches, and observe the manner of their public worship ; 
attend to their ceremonies, and inquire the meaning and 
intention of every one of them. And, as you will soon 
understand German well enough, attend to their sermons, 
and observe their manner of preaching. Inform yourself 
of their church government, whether it resides in the 
Sovereign, or in Consistories and Synods. Whence arises 
the maintenance of their Clergy; whether from tithes, as 
in England, or from voluntary contributions, or from 
pensions from the State. Do the same thing when you 
are in Roman Catholic countries ; go to their churches, 
see all their ceremonies, ask the meaning of them, get the 
terms explained to you. As, for instance, Prime, Tierce, 
Sexte, Nones, Matins, Angelus, High Mass, Vespers, 
Complies, etc. Inform yourself of their several religious 
Orders, their Founders, their Rules, their Vows, their 
Habits, their Revenues, etc. But when you frequent 
places of public worship, as I would have you go to all 
the different ones you meet with, remember that however 
erroneous, they are none of them objects of laughter and 
ridicule. Honest error is to be pitied, not ridiculed. 
The object of all the public worships in the world is the 
same; it is that great eternal Being, who created every- 
thing. The different manners of worship are by no means 
subjects of ridicule. Each sect thinks its own the best; 
and I know no infallible judge in this world to decide 
which is the best. Make the same inquiries, wherever 
you are, concerning the revenues, the military establish- 
ment, the trade, the commerce, and the police of every 
country. And you would do well to keep a blank paper 
book, which the Germans call an Album: and there, 
instead of desiring, as they do, every fool they meet with 

7 



62 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

to scribble something, write down all these things as soon 
as they come to your knowledge from good authorities. 

I had almost forgotten one thing which I would recom- 
mend as an object for your curiosity and information, 
that is, the Administration of Justice ; which, as it is 
always carried on in open Court, you may, and I would 
have you, go and see it with attention and inquiry. 

I have now but one anxiety left which is concerning 
you. I would have you be, what I know nobody is, 
perfect. As that is impossible, I would have you as near 
perfection as possible. I know nobody in a fairer way 
towards it than yourself if you please. Never were so 
much pains taken for anybody's education as for yours; 
and never had anybody those opportunities of knowledge 
and improvement which you have had and still have. I 
hope, I wish, I doubt, and I fear alternately. This only 
I am sure of, that you will prove either the greatest pain 
or the greatest pleasure of Yours. 



LETTER XXX. 

DEAR BOY, Bath, February the 22nd, O. S. 1748. 

EVERY excellency, and every virtue, has its kindred 
vice or weakness; and if carried beyond certain bounds, 
sinks into the one or the other. Generosity often runs 
into Profusion, Economy into Avarice, Courage into 
Rashness, Caution into Timidity, and so on : insomuch 
that, I believe, there is more judgment required for the 
proper conduct of our virtues, than for avoiding their 
opposite vices. Vice, in its true light, is so deformed, 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 63 

that it shocks us at first sight; and would hardly ever 
seduce us, if it did not at first wear the mask of some 
Virtue. But Virtue is in itself so beautiful, that it charms 
us at first sighty engages us more and more, upon further 
acquaintance; and, as with other Beauties, we ^hink 
excess impossible: it is hprp tW judgment is necessary 
-tO lflCidf*rt\tf* anH Hirprf- tfop pfTprf-g nf an fvrpllAfit; cailfig. 

I shall apply this reasoning, at present, not to any particular 
virtue, but to an excellency, which for want of judgment 
is often the cause of ridiculous and blamable effects; I 
mean, great Learning, which, if not accompanied with 
sound judgment, frequently carries us into Error, Pride, 
and Pedantry. As I hope you will possess that excellency 
in its utmost extent, and yet without its too common 
failings, the hints which my experience can suggest may 
probably not be useless .to you. 

Some learned men, proud of their knowledge, only 



consequence of which is, that mankind, provoked by the 
insuk, and injured by the oppression, revolt ; and in order 
to shake off the tyranny, even call the lawful authority in 
question. The more you know, the modester you should 
be : and (by the by) that modesty is the surest way of 
gratifying your vanity. Even where you are sure, seem 
rather doubtful : represent, but do not pronounce ; and 
if you would convince others, seem open to conviction 
yourself. 

Others, to show their learning, or often from the pre- 
judices of a school education, where they hear of nothing 
else, are always talking of the Ancients as something more 
than men, and of the Moderns as something less. They 
are never without a Classic or two in their pockets ; they 
stick to the old good sense; they read none of the 



64 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

modern trash ; and will show you plainly that no improve- 
ment has been made in any one art or science these last 
seventeen hundred years. I would by no means have you 
disown your acquaintance with the Ancients ; but still less 
would I have you brag of an exclusive intimacy with 
them. Speak of the Moderns without contempt, and of 
the Ancients without idolatry; judge them nil by their 
mmtej I* not ^y ^^> qg^s; and if you happen to 
have an Elzevir classic in your pocket, neither show it 
nor mention it. 

Some great Scholars most absurdly draw all their 
maxims, both for public and private life, from what they 
call Parallel Cases in the ancient authors; without con- 
sidering, that, in the first place, there never were, since 
the creation of the world, two cases exactly parallel : 
and, in the next place, that there never was a case 
stated, or even known, by any Historian, with every one 
of its circumstances; which, however, ought to be known, 
in order to be reasoned from. E-eason upon the case 
and-ihe several circumstances that attend it, and 
j_ but not from the authority of ancient 



Poets or Historians. Take into your consideration, if you 
please, cases seemingly analogous ; but take them as helps 
only, not as guides. We are really so prejudiced by our 
educations, that, as the Ancients deified their Heroes, we 
deify their Madmen : of which, with all due regard to 
antiquity, I take Leonidas and Curtius to have been two 
distinguished ones. And yet a stolid Pedant would, in 
a speech in Parliament, relative to a tax of twopence in 
the pound, upon some commodity or other, quote those 
two heroes, as examples of what we ought to do and 
suffer for our country. I have known these absurdities 
carried so far, by people of injudicious learning, that I 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 65 

should not be surprised, if some of them were to propose, 
while we are at war with the Gauls, that a number of 
geese should be kept in the Tower, upon account of the 
infinite advantage which Rome received, in a parallel case, 
from a certain number of geese in the Capitol. This way 
of reasoning, and this way of speaking, will always form 
a poor politician, and a puerile declaimer. 

There is another species of learned men, who, though 
less dogmatical and supercilious, are not less impertinent. 
These are the communicative and shining Pedants, who 
adorn their conversation, even with women, by happy 
quotations of Greek and Latin, and who have contracted 
such a familiarity with the Greek and Roman authors, 
that they call them by certain names or epithets denoting 
intimacy. As old Homer; that sly rogue Horace; Maro, 
instead of Virgil; and Naso, instead of Ovid. These are 
often imitated by coxcombs who have no learning at all, 
but who have got some names and some scraps of ancient 
authors by heart, which they improperly and impertinently 
retail in all companies, in hopes of passing for scholars. 
If, therefore, you would avoid the accusation of pedantry, 
on one hand, or the suspicion of ignorance, on the other, 
abstain from learned ostentation. Speak the laqgna.^ nf 

thg_ fnmpnny thqf VQJ1 2LL& ift-J sppfllc il" purely^ arH 
unlarHeH with flrw Other. Never seem wisf>r ( flOf rnnrp 

learned, than the people you are with. \War y^nr ham- 
ing, like your watch, in a privaff pnrl-pt- and do not 
pull it out, and strike it, merely to show that you have 
one. If you are asked what o'clock it is, tell it; but do / 
not proclaim it hourly and unasked, like the watchman. 

Upon the whole, remember that learning (I mean Greek 
and Roman learning) is a most^uselul and necessary 
flrnnm.-ni. which it is shameful nnt tn hf> master of; but 



66 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

at the same time most carefully avoid those errors and 
abuses which I have mentioned, and which too often 
attend it. Remember, too, that great modern knowledge 
is still more necessary than ancient; and that you had 
better know perfectly the present than the old state ol 
Europe; though I would have you well acquainted with 
both. 

I have this moment received your letter of the iyth 
N. S. Though, I confess, there is no great variety in your 
present manner of life, yet materials can never be wanting 
for a letter; you see, you hear, or you read, something 
new every day; a short account of which, with your own 
reflections thereupon, will make out a letter very well. 
But, since you desire a subject, pray send me an account 
of the Lutheran establishment in Germany ; their religiouf 
tenets, their church government, the maintenance, authority 
and titles of their Clergy. 

Vittorio Sin] complete, is a very scarce and very dear 
book here; but I do not want it. If your own library 
grows too voluminous, you will not know what to do 
with it, when you leave Leipsig. Your best way will be, 
when you go away from thence, to send to England, by 
Hamburg, all the books that you do not absolutely want 
Yours. 



LETTER XXXI. 

DEAR BOY, Bath, March the pth, O. S. 1748. 

I MUST, from time to time, remind you of what I have 
often recommended to you, and of what you cannot attend 
to too much; sagrfire. tn the, Graws. The different effects 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 67 

of the same things, said or done, when accompanied or 
abandoned by them, is almost inconceivable. They pre- 
pare the way to the heart ; and the heart has such an 
influence over the understanding, that it is worth while to 
engage it in our interest. It is the whole of women, who 
are guided by nothing else ; and it has so much to say, 
even with men, and the ablest men too, that it commonly 
triumphs in every struggle with the understanding. 
Monsieur de Rochefoucault, in his Maxims, says, that 
r esprit est souvcnt la dupe du cc&ur. If he had said, instead 
of souvent, presque toujours, I fear he would have been 
nearer the truth. This being the case, airn at the frpgrt^. 
Intrinsic merit alone wi]J not do: it will gain you the 



is, the heart of any. To engage the affection of any 
particular person, you must, over and above your general 
merit, have some particular merit to that person ; by 
services done or offered ; by expressions of regard and 
esteem; by complaisance, attentions, etc., for him: and 
the graceful manner of doing all these things opens the way 
to the heart, and facilitates, or rather insures, their effects. 
From your own observation, reflect what a disagreeable 
impression an awkward address, a slovenly figure, an 
ungraceful manner of speaking, whether stuttering, mutter- 
ing, monotony, or drawling, an unattentive behaviour, etc., 
make upon you, at first sight, in a stranger, and how they 
prejudice you against him, though, for aught you know, he 
may have great intrinsic sense and merit. And reflect, on 
the other hand, how much the opposites of all these things 
prepossess you at first sight in favour of those who enjoy 
them. You wish to find all good qualities in them, and are 
in some degree disappointed if you do not. A thousand 
little things, not separately to be defined, conspire to form 



68 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

these Graces, this je ne sais quoi> that always pleases. A 
pretty person, genteel motions, a proper degree of dress, an 
harmonious voice, something open and cheerful in the 
countenance, but without laughing ; a distinct and properly 
varied manner of speaking : all these things, and many 
others, are necessary ingredients in the composition of the 
pleasing je ne sais quoi, which everybody feels, though 
nobody can describe. Observe carefully, then, what dis- 
pleases or pleases you in others, and be persuaded that in 
general the same things will please or displease them in 
you. Having mentioned laughing, I must particularly warn 
you against it : and I could heartily wish, that you may 
often be seen to smile, but never heard to laugh, while you 
live. Frequent and loud laughter is the characteristic of 
folly and ill manners : it is the manner in which the mob 
express their silly joy, at silly things ; and they call it being 
merry. In my mind, there is nothing so illiberal, and so 
ill bred, as audible laughter. True wit, or sense, never yet 
made anybody laugh; they are above it : they please the 
mind, and give a cheerfulness to the countenance. But it 
is low buffoonery, or silly accidents, that always excite 
laughter; and that is what people of sense and breeding 
should show themselves above. A man's going to sit 
down, in the supposition that he has a chair behind him, 
and falling down upon his breech for want of one, sets 
a whole company a laughing, when all the wit in the world 
wouM not do it ; a plain proof, in my mind, how low and 
unbecoming a thing laughter is. Not to mention the dis- 
agreeable noise that it makes, and the shocking distortion 
of the face that it occasions. Laughter is easily restrained 
by a very little reflection, but as it is generally connected 
with the idea of gaiety, people do not enough attend to its 
absurdity. I am neither of a melancholy nor a cynical 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 69 

disposition; and am as willing and as apt to be pleased 
as anybody ; but I am sure that, since I have bad ftp, full 

ii^flf my rpQsnn, nnhr^y frfl S pypr hpnrH m? lanprh Many 

people, at first from awkwardness and mauvaise honte^ have 
got a very disagreeable and silly trick of laughing whenever 
they speak: and I know a man of very good parts, Mr. 
Waller, who cannot say the commonest thing without laugh- 
ing; which makes those who do not know him, take him at 
first for a natural fool This and many other very disagree- 
able habits are owing to mauvaise honte at their first setting 
out in the world. They are ashamed in company, and so 
disconcerted that they do not know what they do, and try 
a thousand tricks to keep themselves in countenance ; 
which tricks afterwards grow habitual to them. Some put 
their fingers in their nose, others scratch their head, others 
twirl their hats ; in short, every awkward, ill-bred body has 
his trick. But the frequency does not justify the thing ; 
and all these vulgar habits and awkwardness, though not 
criminal indeed, are most carefully to be guarded against, 
as thej are great bars in the way of the art of pleasing. 
Remember, that to please is almost to prevail, or at least 
a necessary pfgviQm^&tep io it^ You, who have your 
fortune to make, should more particularly study this art. 
You had not, I must tell you, when you left England, Us 
mantires prevenantes ; and I must confess they are not very 
common in England : but I hope that your good sense 
will make you acquire them abroad. If you desire to make 
yourself considerable in the world (as, if you have any 
spirit, you do) it must be entirely your own doing : for I 
may very possibly be out of the world at the time you come 
into it. Your own rank and fortune will not assist you ; 
your merit and your nin nnpr s ^ff" alon^ rgjsF.yon tQ fignr** 
and fortune. I have laid the foundations of them by the 




70 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

education which I have given you ; but you must build the 
superstructure yourself. 

I must now apply to you for some informations, which I 
dare say you can, and which I desire you will give me. 

Can, the Elector of Saxony put any of his subjects to 
death for high treason without bringing them first to their 
trial in some public Court of Justice ? 

Can he by his own authority confine any subject in 
prison as long as he pleases, without trial ? 

Can he banish any subject out of his dominions by his 
own authority ? 

Can he lay any tax whatsoever upon his subjects, without 
the consent of the States of Saxony? and what are those 
States ? how are they elected ? what Orders do they con- 
sist of ? do the Clergy make part of them ? and when and 
how often do they meet ? 

If two subjects of the Elector's are at law for an estate 
situated in the Electorate, in what Court must this suit be 
tried ; and will the decision of that Court be final, or does 
there lie an appeal to the Imperial Chamber at Wetzaler ? 

What do you call the two chief Courts, or two chief 
Magistrates, of civil and criminal justice ? 

What is the common revenue of the Electorate, one year 
with another ? 

What number of troops does the Elector now maintain ? 
and what is the greatest number that the Electorate is able 
to maintain ? 

I do not expect to have all these questions answered at 
once ; but you will answer them in proportion as you get the 
necessary and authentic informations. 

You are, you see, my German Oracle ; and I consult you 
so much faith, that you need not, like the Oracles of 
turn ambiguous answers ; especially as you have this 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 71 

advantage over them, too, that I only consult you about 
past and present, but not about what is to come. 

I wish you a good Easter fair at Leipsig. See, with 
attention, all the shops, drolls, tumblers, rope-dancers, and 
hoc genus omne: but inform yourself more particularly of the 
several parts of trade there. Adieu. 



LETTER XXXII. 

DEAR BOY, London, April the ist, O. S. 1748. 

I HAVE not received any letter, either from you or from 
Mr. Harte, these three posts, which I impute wholly to 
accidents between this place and Leipsig; and they are 
distant enough to admit of many. I always take it for 
granted that you are well when I do not hear to the 
contrary ; besides, as I have often told you, I am much 
more anxious about your doing well, than about your being 
well ; and when you do not write I will suppose that you 
are doing something more useful. Your health will con- 
tinue while your temperance continues ; and at your age 
nature takes sufficient care of the body, provided she is left 
to herself, and that intemperance on one hand, or medicines 
on the other, do not break in upon her. But it is by no 
means so with the mind, which at your age particularly 
requires great and constant care, and some physic. Every 
quarter of an hour well or ill employed, will do it essential 
and lasting good or harm. It requires also a great deal 
of exercise to bring it to a state of health and vigour. 
Observe the difference there is between minds cultivated and 
minds uncultivated, and you will, I am sure, think that you 



72 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

cannot take too much pains, nor employ too much of youi 
time, in the culture of your own. A drayman is probably born 
with as good organs as Milton, Locke, or Newton ; but by 
culture they are much more above him than he is above 
his horse. Sometimes, indeed, extraordinary geniuses have 
broken out by the force of nature without the assistance of 
education ; but those instances are too rare for anybody to 
trust to ; and even they would make a much greater figure 
if they had the advantage of education into the bargain. If 
Shakspeare's genius had been cultivated, those beauties, which 
we so justly admire in him, would have been undisgraced 
by those extravagancies, and that nonsense, with which they 
are frequently accompanied. People are in general what 
they are made, by education and company, from fifteen to 
five-and-twenty ; consider well, therefore, the importance 
of your next eight or nine years ; your whole depends upon 
them. I will tell you sincerely my hopes and my fears 
concerning you. I think you will be a good scholar, and 
that you will acquire a considerable stock of knowledge of 
various kinds : but I fear that you neglect what are called 
little, though in truth they are very material, things; I mean 
a gentleness of manners, an engaging address, and an 
insinuating behaviour : they are real and solid advantages, 
and none but those who do not know the world, treat them 
as trifles. I am told that you speak very quick, and not 
distinctly ; this is a most ungraceful and disagreeable trick, 
which you know I have told you of a thousand times ; pray 
attend carefully to the correction of it. An agreeable and 
distinct manner of speaking adds greatly to the matter ; and 
I have known many a very good speech unregarded upon 
account of the disagreeable manner in which it has been 
delivered, and many an indifferent one applauded, for the 
contrary reason. Adieu. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 73 



LETTER XXXIII. 

DEAR BOY, London, May the 1 7th, O. S. 1748. 

I RECEIVED, yesterday, your letter of the i6th, N. S., 
and have, in consequence of it, written this day to Sir 
Charles Williams, to thank him for all the civilities he has 
shown you. Your first setting out at Court has, I find, 
been very favourable; and his Polish Majesty has distin- 
guished you. I hope you received that mark of distinction 
with respect and with steadiness, which is the proper 
behaviour of a man of fashion. People of a low, obscure 
education, cannot stand the rays of greatness ; they are 
frightened out of their wits when Kings and great men 
speak to them; they are awkward, ashamed, and do not 
know what nor how to answer : whereas les honnetes gens 
are not dazzled by superior rank : they know and pay all 
the respect that is due to it ; but they do it without being 
disconcerted ; and can converse just as easily with a King 
as with any one of his subjects. That is the great 
advantage of being introduced young into good company, 
and being used early to converse with one's superiors. 
How many men have I seen here, who, after having had 
the full benefit of an English Education, first at school, and 
then at the university, when they have been presented to 
the King, did not know whether they stood upon their 
heads or their heels? If the King spoke to them, they 
were annihilated ; they trembled, endeavoured to put their 
hands in their pockets and missed them, let their hats fall, 
and were ashamed to take them up; and, in short, put 
themselves in every attitude but the right, that is, the easy 
and natural one. The characteristic of a well-bred man is, 
to converse with his inferiors without insolence, and with. 



74 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

his superiors with respect_jnd_with_ease. He talks to 
Kings^wTtHouFconcern ; he trifles with women of the first 
condition, with familiarity, gaiety, but respect; and con- 
verses with his equals, whether he is acquainted with them 
or not, upon general, common topics, that are not, however, 
quite frivolous, without the least concern of mind, or 
awkwardness of body: neither of which can appear to 
advantage, but when they are perfectly easy. 

The tea-things which Sir Charles Williams has given you, 
I would have you make a present of to your Mamma, and 
send them to her by Duval, when he returns. You owe 
her, not only duty, but likewise great obligations, for her 
care and tenderness; and consequently cannot take too 
many opportunities of showing your gratitude. 

I am impatient to receive your account of Dresden, and 
likewise your answers to the many questions that I asked 
you. 

Adieu for this time, and God bless you ! 



LETTER XXXIV. 

DEAR BOY, London, June the 2ist, O. S. 1748. 

YOUR very bad enunciation runs so much in my head 
and gives me such real concern, that it will be the subject of 
this, and I believe of many more, letters. I congratulate 
both you and myself that I was informed of it (as I hope) in 
time to prevent it ; and shall ever think myself, as hereafter 
you will I am sure think yourself, infinitely obliged to Sir 
Charles Williams for informing me of it. Good God ! if 
this ungraceful and disagreeable manner of speaking had 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 75 

either by your negligence or mine become habitual to you, 
as in a couple of years more it would have been, what a 
figure would you have made in company, or in a public 
assembly ? Who would have liked you in the one or have 
attended to you in the other? Read what Cicero and 
Quintilian say of Enunciation, and see what a stress they lay 
upon the gracefulness of it ; nay, Cicero goes further, and 
even maintains that a good figure is necessary for an Orator; 
and particularly that he must not be vastus ; that is, over- 
grown and clumsy. He shows hy ft that; he knew mankind 
well and knew fte powers of an ayr^M* fig^ BIT1 f ft- 
nrreflll """"*" M, PS V^l as women, are much 
oftener led by their hearts than by their understandings.. 
The way to the heart is through the senses; please their 
eyes and their ears, and the work is half done. I have 
frequently known a man's fortune decided for ever by his 
first address. If it is pleasing, people are hurried involun- 
tarily into a persuasion that he has a merit, which possibly 
he has not ; as, on the other hand, if it is ungraceful, they 
are immediately prejudiced against him ; and unwilling to 
allow him the merit which it may be he has. Nor is this sen- 
timent so unjust and unreasonable as at first it may seem ; 
for if a man has parts he must know of what infinite conse- 
quence it is to him to have a graceful manner of speaking 
and a genteel and pleasing address : he will cultivate and 
improve them to the utmost. Your figure is a good one ; 
you have no natural defect in the organs of speech; your 
address may be engaging, and your manner of speaking 
graceful, if you will ; so that if they are not so, neither I 
nor the world can ascribe it to anything but your want of 
parts. What is the constant and just observation as to all 
actors upon the stage ? Is it not that those who have the 
best sense always speak the best, though they may happen 



76 LORD CHESTERFIELD* S 

not to have the best voices? They will speak plainly, dis- 
tinctly, and with the proper emphasis, be their voices ever so 
bad. Had Roscius spoken quick, thick, and ungracefully, I 
will answer for it, that Cicero would not have thought him 
worth the oration which he made in -his favour. Words 
were given us to communicate our ideas by; and there 
must be something inconceivably absurd in uttering them in 
5uch a manner as that either people cannot understand 
them or will not desire to understand them. I tell you 
truly and sincerely that I shall judge of your parts by your 
speaking gracefully or ungracefully. If you have parts you 
will never be at rest till you have brought yourself to a 
habit of speaking most gracefully ; for I aver that it is in 
your power. You will desire Mr. Harte that you may read 
aloud to him every day; and that he will interrupt and 
correct you every time that you read too fast, do not 
observe the proper stops, or lay a wrong emphasis. You 
will take care to open your teeth when you speak ; to 
articulate every word distinctly ; and to beg of Mr. Harte, 
Mr. Eliot, or whomever you speak to, to remind and stop 
you, if ever you fall into the rapid and unintelligible mutter. 
You will even read aloud to yourself and tune your utter- 
ance to your own ear ; and read at first much slower than 
you need to do, in order to correct yourself of that shame- 
ful trick of speaking faster than you ought. In short, you 
will make it your business, your study, and your pleasure, 
to speak well if you think right. Therefore, what I have 
said in this, and in my last, is more than sufficient, if you 
have sense ; and ten times more would not be sufficient if 
you have not : so here I rest it. 

Next to graceful speaking, a genteel carriage, and a 
.... graceful manner of presenting yourself, are extremely 
necessary, for they are extremely engaging ; and carelessness 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 77 

in these points is much more unpardonable in a young 
fellow than affectation. It shows an offensive indifference < 
about pleasing. I am told by one here who has seen you 
lately, that you are awkward in your motions, and negligent 
of your person : I am sorry for both ; and so will you, 
when it will be too late, if you continue so some time 
longer Awkwardness of carriage is very alienating ; and a 
total negligence of dress, and air, is an impertinent insult 

upon custom and fashion. You remember Mr. very 

jvell, I am sure, and you must consequently remember his 
extreme awkwardness ; which, I can assure you, has been a 
great clog to his parts and merit, that have, with much 
difficulty, but barely counterbalanced it at last. Many to 
whom I have formerly commended him, have answered me, 
That they were sure he could not have parts, because he 
*ras so awkward : so much are people, as I observed to you 
before, taken by the eye. Women have great influence as 
to a man's fashionable character; and an awkward man 
will never have their votes ; which, by the way, are very 
numerous, and much oftener counted than weighed. You 
should therefore give some attention to your dress, and to 
the gracefulness of your motions. I believe, indeed, that 
you have no perfect model for either, at Leipsig, to form 
yourself upon ; but, however, do not get a habit of neglect- 
ing either: and attend properly to both when you go to 
Courts; where they are very necessary, and where you will 
have good masters and good models for both. Your exer- 
cises of riding, fencing, and dancing, will civilise and 
fashion your body and your limbs, and give you, if you will 
but take it, Fair (fun honntte homme. 

I will now conclude with suggesting one reflection to 
you, which is, that you should be sensible of your good 
fortune, in having one who interests himself enough in you 

8 



78 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

to inquire into your faults, in order to inform you of them. 
Nobody but myself would be so solicitous, either to know or 
correct them ; so that you might consequently be ignorant 
of them yourself; for our own self-love draws a thick veil 
between us and our faults. But when you hear yours from 
me, you may be sure that you hear them from one who, for 
your sake only, desires to correct them; from one whom 
you cannot suspect of any partiality but in your favour; 
and from one who heartily wishes that his care of you, as a 
father, may in a little time render every care unnecessary 
but that of a friend. Adieu. 

P.S. I condole with you for the untimely and violent 
death of the tuneful Matzel. 



LETTER XXXV. 

DEAR BOY, London, July the 26th, O. S. 1748. 

THERE are two sorts of understandings ; one of which 
hinders a man from ever being considerable, and the other 
commonly makes him ridiculous ; I mean the lazy mind, 
and the trifling, frivolous mind. Yours, I hope, is neither. 
The lazy mind will not take the trouble of going to the 
bottom of anything, but, discouraged by the first difficulties 
(and everything worth knowing or having is attended with 
some), stops short, contents itself with easy, and consequently 
superficial, knowledge, and prefers a great degree of ignor- 
ance to a small degree of trouble. These people either 
think or represent most things as impossible, whereas^ few 
things are so to industry and activity. But difficulties seem 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 79 

to them impossibilities, or at least they pretend to think 
them so, by way of excuse for their laziness. An hour's 
attention to the same object is too laborious for them; 
they take everything in the light in which it first presents 
itself, never consider it in all its different views, and, in 
short, never think it thorough. The consequence of this is, 
that when they come to speak upon these subjects before 
people who have considered them with attention, they only 
discover their own ignorance and laziness, and lay them- 
selves open to answers that put them in confusion. Do 
not, then, be discouraged by the first difficulties, but contra 
audentior ito ; and resolve to go to the bottom of all those 
things which every gentleman ought to know well. Those 
arts or sciences which are peculiar to certain professions 
need not be deeply known by those who are not intended 
for those professions. As, for instance, fortification and 
navigation ; of both which, a superficial and general know- 
ledge, such as the common course of conversation, with a 
very little inquiry on your part, will give you, is sufficient. 
Though, by the way, a little more knowledge of fortification 
may be of some use to you ; as the events of war, in sieges, 
make many of the terms of that science occur frequently in 
common conversations ; and one would be sorry to say, 
like the Marquis de Mascarille, in Moliere's Prccieuses 
Ridicules, when he hears of une demie Lune ; Ma foi, 
fetoit bien une Lune toute enttire. But those things which 
every gentleman, independently of profession, should know, 
he ought to know well, and dive into all the depths of 
them. Such are languages, history, and geography ancient 
and modern ; philosophy, rational logic, rhetoric ; and, for 
you particularly, the constitution, and the civil and military 
state, of every country in Europe. This, I confess, is a 
pretty large circle of knowledge, attended with some 



8o LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

difficulties, and requiring some trouble; which, however, 
an active and industrious mind will overcome, and be 
amply repaid. The trifling and frivolous mind is always 
busied, but to little purpose; it takes little objects for 
great ones, and throws away upon trifles that time and 
attention which only important things deserve. Knick- 
knacks, butterflies, shells, insects, etc., are the objects of 
their most serious researches. They contemplate the dress, 
not the characters, of the company they keep. They attend 
more to the decorations of a Play, than to the sense of it ; 
and to the ceremonies of a Court, more than to its politics. 
Such an employment of time is an absolute loss of it. You 
have now, at most, three years to employ either well or ill ; 
for as I have often told you, you will be all your life what 
you shall be three years hence. For God's sake, then, 
reflect : Will you throw away this time, either in laziness, or 
in trifles ? Or will you not rather employ every moment of 
it in a manner that must so soon reward you, with so much 
pleasure, figure, and character ? I cannot, I will not, doubt 
of your choice. Read only useful books ; and never quit a 
subject till you are thoroughly master of it, but read and 
inquire on till then. When you are in company, bring the 
conversation to some useful subject, but a forth of that 
company. Points of history, matters of literature, the 
customs of particular countries, the several Orders of 
Knighthood, as Teutonic, Malthese, etc., are surely better 
subjects of conversation than the weather, dress, or fiddle- 
faddle stories, that carry no information along with them. 
The characters of Kings, and great Men, are only to be 
learned in conversation; for they are never fairly written 
during their lives. This, therefore, is an entertaining and 
instructive subject of conversation, and will likewise give 
you an opportunity of observing how very differently 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 81 

characters are given, from the different passions and views 
of those* who give them. Never be ashamed nor afraid 
of asking questions; for if they lead to information, and 
if you accompany them with some excuse, you will never 
be reckoned an impertinent or rude questioner. All those 
things, in the common course of life, depend entirely upon 
the manner ; and in that respect the vulgar saying is true, 
That one man may better steal a horse, than another look 
over the hedge. There are few things that may not be 
said, in some manner or other; either in a seeming con- 
fidence, or a genteel irony, or introduced with wit : and 
one great part of the knowledge of the world consists in 
knowing when and where to make use of these different 
manners. The graces of the person, the countenance, and 
the way of speaking, contribute so much to this, that I am 
convinced the very same thing said by a genteel person, 
in an engaging way, and gracefully and distinctly spoken, 
would please; which would shock, if muttered out by an 
awkward figure, with a sullen, serious countenance. The 
Poets always represent Venus as attended by the three 
Graces, to intimate that even Beauty will not do without. 
I think they should have given Minerva three also; for 
without them, I am sure, learning is very unattractive. 
Invoke them, then, distinctly, to accompany all your words 
and motions. Adieu. 

p.S. Since I wrote what goes before, I have received 
your letter, of no date, with the enclosed state of the 
Prussian forces : of which, I hope you have kept a copy ; 
this you should lay in a porte-feuille, and add to it all the 
military establishments tnat you can get of other States and 
Kingdoms : the Saxon establishment you may, doubtless, 
easily find. By the way, do not forget to send me answers 



82 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

to the questions which I sent you some time ago, concerning 
both the civil and the ecclesiastical affairs of Saxony. 

Do not mistake me, and think I only mean that you 
should speak elegantly with regard to style, and the purity 
of language ; but I mean that you should deliver and pro- 
nounce what you say gracefully and distinctly, for which 
purpose I will have you frequently read, very loud, to Mr. 
Harte, recite parts of orations and speak passages of plays. 
For without a graceful and pleasing enunciation, all your 
elegancy of style in speaking is not worth one farthing. 

I am very glad that Mr. Lyttelton approves of my new 
house, and particularly of my Canonical pillars. My bust 
of Cicero is a very fine one, and well preserved; it will 
have the best place in my library, unless at your return you 
bring me over as good a modern head of your own, which I 
should like still better. I can tell you that I shall examine 
it as attentively as ever antiquary did an old one. 

Make my compliments to Mr. Harte, whose recovery I 
rejoice at. 



LETTER XXXVI. 

DEAR BOY, Bath, October the igth, O. S. 1748. 

HAVING in my last pointed out what sort of company 
you should keep, I will now give you some rules for your 
conduct in it ; rules which my own experience and observa- 
tion enable me to lay down, and communicate to you with 
some degree of confidence. I have often given you hints 
of this kind before, but then it has been by snatches ; I will 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 83 

now be more regular and methodical. I shall say nothing 
with regard to your bodily carriage and address, but leave 
them to the care of your dancing-master, and to your own 
attention to the best models : remember, however, that they 
are of consequence. 

Talk often, but never long; in that case, if you do not 
please, at least you are sure not to tire your hearers. Pay 
your own reckoning, but do not treat the whole company; 
this being one of the very few cases in which people do not 
care to be treated, every one being fully convinced that he 
has wherewithal to pay. 

Tell stories very seldom, and absolutely never but where 
they are very apt and very short. Omit every circum- 
stance that is not material, and beware of digressions. To 
have frequent recourse to narrative betrays great want of 
imagination. 

Never hold anybody by the button, or the hand, in 
order to be heard out; for, if people are not willing to 
hear you, you had much better hold your tongue than 
them. 

Most long talkers single out some one unfortunate man 
in company (commonly him whom they observe to be the 
most silent, or their next neighbour) to whisper, or at least, 
in a half voice, to convey a continuity of words to. This is 
excessively ill-bred, and, in some degree, a fraud ; conversa- 
tion stock being a joint and common property. But, on 
the other hand, if one of these unmerciful talkers lays hold 
of you, hear him with patience (and at least seeming 
attention), if fa y ^Bflfth gl?^g in ff ' f r nothing will oblige 
him more than a patient hearing, as nothing would hurt him 
more, than either to leave him in the midst of his discourse, 
or to discover your impatience under your affliction. 

Take, rather than give, the tone of the company you are 



84 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

in. If you have parts, you will show them, more or less, 
upon every subject ; and if you have not, you had better 
talk sillily upon a subject of other people's than of your 
own choosing. 

Avoid as much as you can, in mixed companies, argument- 
ative, polemical conversations ; which, though they should 
not, yet certainly do, indispose, for a time, the contending 
parties towards each other : and, if the controversy grows 
warm and noisy, endeavour to put an end to it by some 
genteel levity or joke. I quieted such a conversation 
hubbub once, by representing to them that though I was 
persuaded none there present would repeat, out of company, 
what passed in it, yet I could not answer for the discretion 
of the passengers in the street, who must necessarily hear all 
that was said. 

Above all things, and upon all occasions, avoid speaking 
of yourself, if it be possible. Such is the natural pride and 
vanity of our hearts, that it perpetually breaks out, even in 
people of the best parts, in all the various modes and figures 
of the egotism. 

Some abruptly speak advantageously of themselves, 
without either pretence or provocation. They are impudent. 
Others proceed more artfully, as they imagine ; and forge 
accusations against themselves, complain of calumnies which 
they never heard, in order to justify themselves, by exhibit- 
ing a catalogue of their many virtues. They acknowledge it 
may, indeed, seem odd, that they should talk in that manner 
of themselves ; it is what they do not like, and what they never 
would have done ; no, no tortures should ever have forced it 
from them, if they had not been thus unjustly and monstrously 
accused. But, in these cases, justice is surely due to one's self, 
as well as to others ; and, when our character is attacked, we 
may say, in our own justification, what otherwise we never 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 85 

would have said. This thin veil of Modesty, drawn before 
Vanity, is much too transparent to conceal it, even from 
very moderate discernment. 

Others go more modestly and more slily still (as they 
think) to work; but, in my mind, still more ridiculously. 
They confess themselves (not without some degree of 
shame and confusion) into all the Cardinal Virtues ; by 
first degrading them into weaknesses, and then owning their 
misfortune, in being made up of those weaknesses. They 
cannot see people suffer without sympathizing with, and 
endeavouring to help them. They cannot see people want 
without relieving them : though truly their own circumstances 
cannot very well afford it. They cannot help speaking truth, 
though they know all the imprudence of it. In short, they 
know that, with all these weaknesses, they are not fit to live 
in the world, much less to thrive in it. But they are now too 
old to change, and must rub on as well as they can. This 
sounds too ridiculous and outre, almost, for the stage ; and 
yet take my word for it, you will frequently meet with it 
upon the common stage of the world. And here I will 
observe, by-the-by, that you will often meet with characters 
in nature so extravagant, that a discreet Poet would not 
venture to set them upon the stage in their true and high 
colouring. 

This principle of vanity and pride is so strong in human 
nature, that it descends even to the lowest objects ; and one 
often sees people angling for praise, where, admitting all 
they say to be true (which, by the way, it seldom is), no 
just praise is to be caught. One man affirms that he has 
rode post a hundred miles in six hours : probably it is a lie ; 
but supposing it to be true, what then ? Why, he is a very 
good postboy, that is all. Another asserts, and probably 
not without oaths, that he has drunk six or eight bottles of 



86 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

wine at a sitting : out of charity I will believe him a liar ; 
for if I do not I must think him a beast. 

Such, and a thousand more, are the follies and extrava- 
gancies which vanity draws people into, and which always 
defeat their own purpose : and, as Waller says, upon 
another subject, 

" Make the wretch the most despised, 
Where most he wishes to be prized." 

The only sure way of avoiding these evils is, never to 
speak of yourself at all. But when historically you are 
obliged to mention yourself, take care not to drop one 
single word that can directly or indirectly be construed as 
fishing for applause. Be your character what it will, it will 
be known ; and nobody will take it upon your own word. 
Never imagine that anything you can say yourself will 
varnish your defects, or add lustre to your perfections : 
but, on the contrary, it may, and nine times in ten will, 
make the former more glaring, and the latter obscure. If 
you are silent upon your own subject, neither envy, 
indignation, nor ridicule will obstruct or allay the applause 
which you may really deserve ; but if you publish your own 
panegyric, upon any occasion or in any shape whatsoever, 
and however artfully dressed or disguised, they will all 
conspire against you, and you will be disappointed of the 
very end you aim at. 

Take care never to seem dark and mysterious ; which 
is not only a very unamiable character, but a very 
suspicious one too : if you seem mysterious with others, 
they will be really so with you, and you will know nothing. 
The height of abilities is, to have volto sciolto, and pensien 
stretti; that is, a frank, open, and ingenuous exterior, with 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 87 

a prudent and reserved interior; to be upon your own 
guard, and yet, by a seeming natural openness, to put 
people off of theirs. Depend upon it, nine in ten of 
every company you are in, will avail themselves of every 
indiscreet and unguarded expression of yours, if they can 
turn it to their own advantage. A prudent reserve is there- 
fore as necessary as a seeming openness is prudent 
Always look people in the face when you speak to them ; 
the not doing it is thought to imply conscious guilt; besides 
that, you lose the advantage of observing by their counten- 
ances what impression your discourse makes upon them. 
In order to know people's real sentiments, I trust much 
more to my eyes than to my ears ; for they can say what- 
ever they have a mind I should hear, but they can seldom 
help looking what they have no intention that I should 
znow. 

Neither retail nor receive scandal, willingly; for though 
the defamation of others may, for the present, gratify the 
malignity or the pride of our hearts, cool reflection will 
draw very disadvantageous conclusions from such a dis- 
position ; and in the case of scandal, as in that of robbery, 
the receiver is always thought as bad as the thief. 

Mimicry, which is the common and favourite amuse- 
ment of little, low minds, is in the utmost contempt with 
great ones. It is the lowest and most illiberal of all 
buffoonery. Pray neither practise it yourself, nor applaud 
it in others. Besides that, the person mimicked is insulted; 
and, as I have often observed to you before, an insult 
is never forgiven. 

I need not (I believe) advise you to adapt your con- 
versation to the people you are conversing with ; for I 
suppose you would not, without this caution, have talked 
upon the same subject, and in the same manner, to a 



88 LORD CHESTER FIELD'S 

Minister of State, a Bishop, a Philosopher, a Captain, and 
a Woman. A man of the world must, like the Cameleon, 
be able to take every different hue ; which is by no means 
a criminal or abject, but a necessary complaisance, for it 
relates only to Manners, and not to Morals. 

One word only as to swearing; and that I hope and 
believe is more than is necessary. You may sometimes 
hear some people in good company interlard their discourse 
vith oaths, by way of embellishment, as they think ; but 
you must observe too, that those who do so are never those 
who contribute, in any degree, to give that company the 
denomination of good company. They are always sub- 
alterns, or people of low education ; for that practice, 
besides that it has no one temptation to plead, is as silly 
and as illiberal as it is wicked. 

Loud laughter is the mirth of the mob, who are only 
pleased with silly things; for true Wit or good Sense 
never excited a laugh since the creation of the world. 
A man of parts and fashion is therefore only seen to 
smile, but never heard to laugh. 

But, to conclude this long letter; all the above-men- 
tioned rules, however carefully you may observe them, 
will lose half their effect if unaccompanied by the Graces. 
Whatever you say, if you say it with a supercilious, 
cynical face, or an embarrassed countenance, or a silly 
disconcerted grin, will be ill received. If, into the bar- 
gain, you mutter it, or utter it indistinctly and ungracefully, 
it will be still worse received. If your air and address are 
vulgar, awkward, and gauche, you may be esteemed indeed, 
if you have great intrinsic merit, but you will never please ; 
and without pleasing, you will rise but heavily. Venus, 
among the Ancients, was synonymous with the Graces, 
who were always supposed to accompany her ; and Horace 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 89 



tells us that even Youth, and Mercury, the God of Arts 
and Eloquence, would not do without her. 

" Parum comis sine tejuventas 

Mercuriusquf. " 

They are not inexorable Ladies, and may be had if 
properly and diligently pursued. Adieu. 



LETTER XXXVII. 

DEAR BOY, London, November the i8th, O. S. 1748. 

WHATEVER I see or whatever I hear, my first con- 
sideration is, whether it can in any way be useful to you. 
As a proof of this, I went accidentally the other day into a 
print-shop, where, among many others, I found one print 
from a famous design of Carlo Maratti, who died about 
thirty years ago, and was the last eminent painter in 
Europe: the subject is, il Studio del Disegno ; or, the 
School of Drawing. An old man, supposed to be the 
Master, points to his Scholars, who are variously employed, 
in Perspective, Geometry, 'and the observation of the 
statues of antiquity. With regard to Perspective, of which 
there are some little specimens; he has wrote, Tanto die 
basti, that is, As much as is sufficient ; with regard to 
Geometry, Tanto che basti again ; with regard to the con- 
templation of the ancient statues, there is written, Non mat 
a bastanza ; There never can be enough. But in the clouds, 
at the top of the piece, are represented the three Graces ; 
with this just sentence written over them, Senza di not ogni 
Jatica I vana y that is, Without us all labour is vain. This 



go LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



everybody allows to be true, in painting ; but all people do 
not seem to consider, as I hope you will, that this truth is 
full as applicable to every other art or science ; indeed, to 
everything that is to be said or done. I will send you the 
print itself, by Mr. Eliot, when he returns; and I will 
advise you to make the same use of it that the Roman 
Catholics say they do of the pictures and images of their 
saints; which is, only to remind them of those; for the 
adoration they disclaim. Nay, I will go further, and, as the 
transition from Popery to Paganism is short and easy, I will 
classically and poetically advise you to invoke and sacrifice 
to them every day, and all the day. It must be owned that 
the Graces do not seem to be natives of Great Britain, and 
I doubt the best of us here have more of the rough than 
the polished diamond. Since barbarism drove them out 
of Greece and Rome, they seem to have taken refuge in 
France, where their temples are numerous, and their 
worship the established one. Examine yourself seriously, 
why such and such people please and engage you, more 
than such and such others of equal merit, and you will 
always find, that it is because the former have the Graces, 
and the latter not. I have known many a woman with an 
exact shape, and a symmetrical assemblage of beautiful 
features, please nobody; while others, with very moderate 
shapes and features, have charmed everybody. Why? 
because Venus will not charm so much without her 
attendant Graces, as they will without her. Among men 
how often have I seen the most solid merit and knowledge 
neglected, unwelcome, or even rejected, for want of them ? 
While flimsy parts, little knowledge, and less merit, intro- 
duced by the Graces, have been received, cherished, and 
admired. Even virtue, which is moral beauty, wants some 
of its charms, if unaccompanied by them. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 91 

If you ask me how you shall acquire what neither you 
nor I can define or ascertain, I can only answer, By obser- 
vation. Form yourself, with regard to others, upon what 
you feel pleases you in them. I can tell you the import- 
ance, the advantaj 
give them you ; I heartily wish I could, and I certainly 
would; for I do not know a better present that I could 
make you. To show you that a very wise, philosophical, 
and retired man thinks upon that subject as I do, who have 
always lived in the world, I send you, by Mr. Eliot, the 
famous Mr. Locke's book upon Education; in which you 
will find the stress that he lays upon the Graces, which he 
calls (and very truly) Good breeding. I have marked all 
the parts of that book which are worth your attention ; for 
as he begins with the child almost from its birth, the parts 
relative to its infancy would be useless to you. Germany is 
still less than England the seat of the Graces ; however, you 
had as good not say so while you are there. But the place 
which you are going to, in a great degree is, for I have 
known as many well-bred pretty men come from Turin as 
from any part of Europe. The late King Victor Amede'e 
took great pains to form such of his subjects as were of any 
consideration, both to business and manners; the present 
King, I am told, follows his example: this, however, is 
certain, that in all Courts and Congresses, where there are 
various foreign Ministers, those of the King of Sardinia are 
generally the ablest, the politest, and ks plus delies. You 
will, therefore, at Turin have very good models to form 
yourself upon ; and remember, that with regard to the best 
models, as well as to the antique Greek statues in the print, 
non mai a bastanza. Observe every word, look, and 
motion, of those who are allowed to be the most accom- 
plished persons there. Observe their natural and careless, 



9 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

but genteel air ; their unembarrassed good breeding ; their 
unassuming, but yet unprostituted, dignity. Mind their 
decent mirth, their discreet frankness, and that entregent, 
which, as much above the frivolous as below the important 
and the secret, is the proper medium for conversation in 
mixed companies. I will observe, by-the-by, that the talent 
of that light entregent is often of great use to a foreign 
Minister ; not only as it helps him to domesticate himself in 
many families, but also as it enables him to put by and parry 
some subjects of conversation, which might possibly lay him 
under difficulties, both what to say and how to look. 

Of all the men that ever I knew in my life (and I 
knew him extremely well), the late Duke of Marlborough 
possessed the Graces in the highest degree, not to 
say engrossed them; and indeed he got the most by 
them ; for I will venture (contrary to the custom of pro- 
found historians, who always assign deep causes for 
great events) to ascribe the better half of the Duke of 
Marlborough's greatness and riches to those Graces. He 
was eminently illiterate ; wrote bad English, and spelled it 
still worse. He had no share of what is commonly called 
Parts; that is, he had no brightness, nothing shining in his 
genius. He had, most undoubtedly, an excellent good 
plain understanding, with sound judgment. But these 
alone would probably have raised him but something higher 
than they found him, which was Page to King James the 
Second's Queen. There the Graces protected and promoted 
him ; for, while he was an Ensign of the Guards, the 
Duchess of Cleveland, then favourite mistress to King 
Charles the Second, struck by those very Graces, gave him 
five thousand pounds ; with which he immediately bought 
an annuity for his life, of five hundred pounds a year, of 
my grandfather, Halifax, which was the foundation of his 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 93 

subsequent fortune. His figure was beautiful; but his 
manner was irresistible, by either man or woman. It was 
by this engaging, graceful manner that he was enabled, 
during all his war, to connect the various and jarring 
Powers of the Grand Alliance, and to carry them on to the 
main object of the war, notwithstanding their private and 
separate views, jealousies, and wrongheadednesses. What- 
ever Court he went to (and he was often obliged to go 
himself to some resty and refractory ones), he as constantly 
prevailed, and brought them into his measures. The 
Pensionary Heinsius, a venerable old Minister, grown gray 
in business, and who had governed the Republic of the 
United Provinces for more than forty years, was absolutely 
governed by the Duke of Marlborough, as that Republic 
feels to this day. He was always cool ; and nobody ever 
observed the least variation in his countenance : he could 
refuse more gracefully than other people could grant ; and 
those who went away from him the most dissatisfied, as to 
the substance of their business, were yet personally charmed 
with him, and, in some degree, comforted by his manner. 
With all his gentleness and gracefulness, no man living was 
more conscious of his situation, nor maintained his dignity 
better. 

With the share of knowledge which you have already 
gotten, and with the much greater which, I hope, you will 
soon acquire, what may you not expect to arrive at, if you 
join all these graces to it ? In your destination particularly 
they are, in truth, half your business ; for, if you can once 
gain the affections, as well as the esteem, of the Prince or 
Minister of the Court to which you are sent, I will answer 
for it, that will effectually do the business of the Court that 
sent you; otherwise, it is up-hill work. Do not mistake, 
and think that these graces, which I so often and earnestly 

9 



94 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

recommend to you, should only accompany important 
transactions, and be worn only les jours de gala: no ; they 
should, if possible, accompany every the least thing that you 
do or say; for, if you neglect them in little things, they 
will leave you in great ones. I should, for instance, be 
extremely concerned to see you even drink a cup of coffee 
ungracefully, and slop yourself with it, by your awkward 
manner of holding it ; nor should I like to see your coat 
buttoned nor your shoes buckled awry. But I should be 
outrageous if I heard you mutter your words unintelligibly, 
stammer in your speech, or hesitate, misplace, and mistake 
in your narrations : and I should run away from you, with 
greater rapidity, if possible, than I should now run to 
embrace you, if I found you destitute of all those graces, 
which I have set my heart upon their making you one day, 
omnibus ornatum excellere rebus. 

This subject is inexhaustible, as it extends to everything 
that is to be said or done; but I will leave it for the 
present, as this letter is already pretty long. Such is my 
desire, my anxiety for your perfection, that I never think 
I have said enough, though you may possibly think I have 
said too much ; and though, in truth, if your own good 
sense is not sufficient to direct you, in many of these plain 
points, all that I or anybody else can say will be insufficient. 
But, where you are concerned, I am the insatiable Man in 
Horace, who covets still a little corner more, to complete 
the figure of his field. I dread every little corner that may 
deform mine, in which I would have (if possible) no one 
defect. 

I this moment receive yours of the i7th, N. S., and 
cannot condole with you upon the secession of your German 
Commensaux ; who, both by your and Mr. Harte's descrip- 
tion, seem to be de s gens d"une aimable absence : and, if you 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 95 

can replace them by any other German conversation, you 
will be a gainer by the bargain. I cannot conceive, if you 
understand German well enough to read any German book, 
how the writing of the German character can be so difficult 
and tedious to you, the twenty-four letters being very soon 
learned ; and I do not expect that you should write yet 
with the utmost purity and correctness, as to the language: 
what I meant by your writing once a fortnight to 
Grevenkop, was only to make the written character familiar 
to you. However, I will be content with one in three 
weeks, or so. 

I believe you are not likely to see Mr. Eliot again soon, 
he being stiil in Cornwall with his father, who, I hear, is 
not likely to recover. Adieu. 



LETTER XXXVIII. 

DEAR BOY, London, January the loth, O. S. 1749. 

I HAVE received your letter of the jist December, 
N. S. Your thanks for my present, as you call it, exceed 
the value of the present ; but the use which you assure me 
that you will make of it is the thanks which I desire to 
receive. Due attention to the inside of books, and due 
contempt for the outside, is the proper relation between a 
man of sense and his books. 

Now that you are going a little more into the world, I 
will take this occasion to explain my intentions as to your 
future expenses, that you may know what you have to 
expect from me, and make your plan accordingly. I shall 



96 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

neither deny nor grudge you any money, that may be 
necessary, for either your improvement or your pleasures; 
I mean, the pleasures of a rational being. Under the head 
of Improvement, I mean the best Books, and the best 
Masters, cost what they will ; I also mean, all the expense 
of lodgings, coach, dress, servants, etc., which, according to 
the several places where you may be, shall be respectively 
necessary, to enable you to keep the best company. Under 
the head of rational Pleasures, I comprehend, First, proper 
charities, to real and compassionate objects of it ; Secondly, 
proper presents, to those to whom you are obliged, or whom 
you desire to oblige ; Thirdly, a conformity of expense to 
that of the company which you keep; as in public 
spectacles, your share of little entertainments; a few 
pistoles at games of mere commerce ; and other incidental 
calls of good company. The only two articles which I will 
never supply, are the profusion of low riot, and the idle 
lavishness of negligence and laziness. A fool squanders 
away, without credit or advantage to himself, more than a 
man of sense spends with both. The latter employs his 
money as he does his time, and never spends a shilling of 
the one, nor a minute of the other, but in something that is 
either useful or rationally pleasing to himself or others. 
The former buys whatever he does not want, and does not 
pay for what he does want. He cannot withstand the 
charms of a toy-shop ; snuff-boxes^ watches, heads of canes, 
etc., are his destruction. His servants and tradesmen 
conspire with his own indolence to cheat him ; and in a 
very little time, he is astonished, in the midst of all his 
ridiculous superfluities, to find himself in want of all the 
real comforts and necessaries of life. Without care and 
method, the largest fortune will not, and with them, almost 
the smallest will, supply all necessary expenses. As far as 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 97 

you can possibly, pay ready money for everything you buy, 
and avoid bills. Pay that money, too, yourself, and not 
through the hands of any servant, who always eithei 
stipulates poundage, or requires a present for his good 
word, as they call it. Where you must have bills (as for 
meat and drink, clothes, etc.), pay them regularly every 
month, and with your own hand. Never, from a mistaken 
economy, buy a thing you do not want, because it is cheap ; 
or from a silly pride, because it is dear. Keep an account, 
in a book, of all that you receive, and of all that you pay, 
for no man who knows what he receives and what he pays 
ever runs out. I do not mean that you should keep an 
account of the shillings and half-crowns which you may 
spend in chair-hire, operas, etc. ; they are unworthy of the 
time, and of the ink that they would consume ; leave such 
minuties to dull, penny wise fellows; but remember, in 
economy, as well as in every other part of life, to have the 
proper attention to proper objects, and the proper contempt 
for little ones. A strong mind sees things in their true 
proportions : a weak one views them through a magnifying 
medium ; which, like the microscope, makes an elephant of 
a flea ; magnifies all little objects, but cannot receive great 
ones. I have known many a man pass for a miser, by 
saving a penny, and wrangling for twopence, who was 
undoing himself at the same time, by living above his 
income, and not attending to essential articles which were 
above his portic. The sure characteristic of a sound and 
strong mind is, to find in everything those certain bounds, 
quos ultra citrave nequit consistere rectum. These boundaries 
are marked out by A very fine line, which only good sense 
and attention can discover ; it is much too fine for vulgar 
eyes. In Manners, this line is Good Breeding; beyond 
it, is troublesome ceremony; short of it i? unbecoming 



9 8 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

negligence and inattention. In Morals, it divides osten- 
tatious Puritanism from criminal Relaxation. In Religion, 
Superstition from Impiety ; and, in short, every virtue from 
its kindred vice or weakness. I think you have sense 
enough to discover the line : keep it always in your eye, 
and learn to walk upon it ; rest upon Mr. Harte, and he 
will poize you, till you are able to go alone. By the way, 
there are fewer people who walk well upon that line, than 
upon the slack rope ; and therefore a good performer shines 
so much the more. 

Your friend, Comte Pertingue, who constantly inquires 
after you, has written to Compte Salmour, the Governor of 
the Academy at Turin, to prepare a room for you there, 
immediately after the Ascension; and has recommended 
you to him, in a manner which I hope you will give him no 
reason to repent or be ashamed of. As Compte Salmour's 
son, now residing at the Hague, is my particular acquaint- 
ance, I shall have regular and authentic accounts of all 
that you do at Turin. 

During your stay at Berlin, I expect that you should 
inform yourself thoroughly of the present state of the Civil, 
Military, and Ecclesiastical government of the King ol 
Prussia's dominions, particularly of the Military, which is 
upon a better footing in that country than in any other in 
Europe. You will attend at the reviews, see the troops 
exercise, and inquire into the number of troops and 
companies in the respective regiments of horse, foot, and 
dragoons ; the numbers and titles of the commissioned 
and non-commissioned Officers in the several troops and 
companies; and also, take care to learn the technical 
military terms in the German language : for, though you 
are not to be a military man, yet these military matters are 
so frequently the subjects of conversation, that you will look 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 99 

very awkwardly if you are ignorant of them. Moreover, 
they are commonly the objects of negotiation, and as such 
fall within your future profession. You must also inform 
yourself of the reformation which the King of Prussia has 
lately made in the law ; by which he has both lessened the 
^number and shortened the duration of lawsuits: a great 
work, and worthy of so great a Prince! As he is in- 
disputably the ablest Prince in Europe, every part of his 
government deserves your most diligent inquiry and your 
most serious attention. It must be owned that you set out 
well, as a young Politician, by beginning at Berlin, and then 
going to Turin, where you will see the next ablest Monarch 
to that of Prussia ; so that, if you are capable of making 
political reflections, those two Princes will furnish you with 
sufficient matter for them. 

I would have you endeavour to get acquainted with 
Monsieur de Maupertuis, who is so eminently distinguished 
by all kinds of learning and merit, that one should be both 
sorry and ashamed of having been even a day in the same 
place with him, and not to have seen him. If you should 
have no other way of being introduced to him, I will send 
you a letter from hence. Monsieur Cagnoni, at Berlin, to 
whom I know you are recommended, is a very able man of 
business, thoroughly informed of every part of Europe : and 
his acquaintance, if you deserve and improve it as you 
should do, may be of great use to you. 

Remember to take the best dancing-master at Berlin, 
more to teach you to sit, stand, and walk gracefully, than to 
dance finely. The Graces, the Graces ; remember the 
Graces 1 Adieu. 



ioo LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER XXXIX. 

DEAR BOY, London, February the 28th, O. S. 1749- 

I WAS very much pleased with the account that you . 
gave me of your reception at Berlin ; but I was still better 
pleased with the account which Mr. Harte sent me of your 
manner of receiving that reception ; for he says you 
behaved yourself to those crowned heads, with all the 
respect and modesty due to them ; but, at the same time, 
without being any more embarrassed than if you had been 
conversing with your equals. This easy respect is the 
perfection of good breeding, which nothing but superior 
good sense, or a long usage of the world, can produce ; and 
as in your case it could not be the latter, it is a pleasing 
indication to me of the former. 

You will now, in the course of a few months, have been 
rubbed at three of the considerable Courts of Europe, 
Berlin, Dresden, and Vienna ; so that I hope you will arrive 
at Turin tolerably smooth, and fit for the last polish. 
There you may get the best ; there being no Court, I know 
of, that forms more well-bred and agreeable people. 
Remember now, that good breeding, genteel carriage, 
address, and even dress (to a certain degree) are become 
serious objects, and deserve a part of your attention. 

The day, if well employed, is long enough for them all. 
One half of it bestowed upon your studies, and your 
exercises, will finish your mind and your body \ the remain- 
ing part of it, spent in good company, will form your 
manners, and complete your character. What would I 
not give, to have you read Demosthenes critically in the 
morning, and understand him better than anybody; at 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 101 

noon, behave yourself better than any person at Court; 
and, in the evenings, trifle more agreeably than anybody in 
mixed companies ? All this you may compass if you 
please; you have the means, you have the opportunities. 
Employ them, for God's sake, while you may, and make 
yourself that all-accomplished man that I wish to have you. 
It entirely depends upon these two years; they are the 
decisive ones. 

I send you here enclosed, a letter of recommendation to 
Monsieur Capello, at Venice, which you will deliver him 
immediately upon your arrival, accompanying it with com- 
pliments from me to him and Madame, both whom you 
have seen here. He will, I am sure, be both very civil 
and very useful to you there, as he will also be afterwards 
at Rome, where he is appointed to go Ambassador. By 
the way, wherever you are, I would advise you to frequent, 
as much as you can, the Venetian Ministers, who are always 
better informed of the Courts they reside at than any other 
Minister, the strict and regular accounts, which they are 
obliged to give to their own government, making them very 
diligent and inquisitive. 

You will stay at Venice as long as the Carnival lasts ; for 
though I am impatient to have you at Turin, yet I would 
wish you to see thoroughly all that is to be seen at so 
singular a place as Venice, and at so showish a time as the 
Carnival. You will take, also, particular care to view all 
those meetings of the government, which strangers are 
allowed to see, as the Assembly of the Senate, etc. ; and 
likewise, to inform yourself of that peculiar and intricate 
form of government. There are books that give an account 
of it, among which the best is Amelot de la Houssaye : this 
I would advise you to read previously ; it will not only give 
you a general notion of that constitution, but also furnish 



102 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

you with materials for proper questions and oral informa- 
tions upon the place, which are always the best. There 
are likewise many very valuable remains, in sculpture and 
paintings of the best masters which deserve your attention. 

I suppose you will be at Vienna as soon as this letter will 
get thither; and I suppose, too, that I must not direct 
above one more to you there. After which, my next shall 
be directed to you at Venice, the only place where a letter 
will be likely to find you, till you are at Turin ; but you 
may, and I desire that you will, write to me, from the 
several places in your way, from whence the post goes. 

I will send you some other letters, for Venice, to Vienna, 
or to your Banker at Venice, to whom you will, upon your 
arrival there, send for them: for I will take care to have 
you so recommended from place to place, that you shall 
not run through them, as most of your countrymen do, 
without the advantage of seeing and knowing what best 
deserves to be seen and known ; I mean, the Men and the 
Manners. 

God bless you, and make you answer my wishes ; I will 
now say, my hopes ! Adieu. 



LETTER XL. 

DEAR BOY, 

I DIRECT this letter to your Banker at Venice, the surest 
place for you to meet with it, though I suppose it will be 
there some time before you ; for, as your intermediate stay 
anywhere else will be but short, and as the post from hence, 
in this season of Easterly winds, is uncertain, I direct no 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 103 

more letters to Vienna; where I hope both you and Mr. 
Harte will have received the two letters which I sent you 
respectively ; with a letter of recommendation to Monsieur 
Capello at Venice, which was enclosed in mine to you. I 
will suppose, too, that the inland post, on your side of the 
water, has not done you justice; for I received but one 
single letter from you, and one from Mr. Harte, during your 
whole stay at Berlin ; from whence I hoped for, and 
expected, very particular accounts. 

I persuade myself, that the time you stay at Venice will 
be properly employed, in seeing all that is to be seen at 
that extraordinary place ; and in conversing with people 
who can inform you, not of the raree-shows of the town, 
but of the constitution of the government ; for which pur- 
pose I send you the enclosed letters of recommendation 
from Sir James Gray, the King's Resident at Venice, but 
who is now in England. These, with mine to Monsieur 
Capello, will carry you, if you will go, into all the best 
company at Venice. 

But the important point, and the important place, is 
Turin; for there I propose your staying a considerable 
time, to pursue your studies, learn your exercises, and form 
your manners. I own I am not without my anxiety for the 
consequence of your stay there, which must be either very 
good or very bad To you it will be entirely a new scene. 
Wherever you have hitherto been, you have conversed 
chiefly with people wiser and discreeter than yourself, and 
have been equally out of the way of bad advice or bad 
example ; but, in the Academy at Turin, you will probably 
meet with both, considering the variety of young fellows 
of about your own age ; among whom,, it is to be expected, 
that some will be dissipated and idle, others vicious and 
profligate. I will believe, till the contrary appears, that you 



io 4 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

have sagacity enough to distinguish the good from the bad 
characters ; and both sense and virtue enough to shun the 
latter, and connect yourself with the former : but, however, 
for greater security, and for your sake alone, I must 
acquaint you, that I have sent positive orders to Mr. Harte 
to carry you off, instantly, to a place which I have named 
to him, upon the very first symptom which he shall dis- 
cover in you, of Drinking, Gaming, Idleness, or Disobedi- 
ence to his orders ; so that, whether Mr. Harte informs me 
or not of the particulars, I shall be able to judge of your 
conduct in general, by the time of your stay at Turin. If it 
is short I shall know why ; and I promise you, that you 
shall soon find that I do : but, if Mr. Harte lets you con- 
tinue there as long as I propose you should, I shall then be 
convinced that you make the proper use of your time, 
which is the only thing I have to ask of you. One year is 
the most that I propose you should stay at Turin ; and that 
year, if you employ it well, perfects you. One year more of 
your late application, with Mr. Harte, will complete your 
Classical studies. You will be, likewise, master of your 
exercises in that time ; and will have formed yourself so 
well at that Court, as to be fit to appear advantageously at 
any other. These will be the happy effects of your year's 
stay at Turin, if you behave and apply yourself there as you 
have done at Leipsig ; but, if either ill advice, or ill 
example, affect and seduce you, you are ruined for ever. 
I look upon that year as your decisive year of probation ; 
go through it well, and you will be all-accomplrshed, and 
fixed in my tenderest affection for ever : but, should the 
contagion of vice or idleness lay hold of you there, your 
character, your fortune, my hopes, and, consequently, my 
favour, are all blasted, and you are undone. The more I 
love you now, from the good opinion that I have of you, 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. I05 

the greater will be my indignation, if I should have reason 
to change it. Hitherto you have had every possible proof 
of my affection, because you have deserved it : but, when 
you cease to deserve it, you may expect every possible mark 
of my resentment. To leave nothing doubtful, upon this 
important point, I will tell you fairly, beforehand, by what 
rule I shall judge of your conduct. By Mr. Harte's 
accounts. He will not, I am sure, nay, I will say more, 
he cannot be in the wrong with regard to you. He can 
have no other view but your good ; and you will, I am 
sure, allow that he must be a better judge of it than you 
can possibly be, at your age. While he is satisfied, I shall 
be so too ; but whenever he is dissatisfied with you, I shall 
be much more so. If he complains, you must be guilty ; 
and I shall not have the least regard for anything that you 
may allege in your own defence. 

I will now tell you what I expect and insist upon from 
you at Turin : First, That you pursue your Classical and 
other studies, every morning, with Mr. Harte, as long and 
in whatever manner Mr. Harte shall be pleased to require : 
Secondly, That you learn, uninterruptedly, your exercises, 
of riding, dancing, and fencing : Thirdly, That you make 
yourself master of the Italian language : and lastly, That 
you pass your evenings in the best company. I also 
require a strict conformity to the hours and rules of the 
Academy. If you will but finish your year in this manner 
at Turin, I have nothing further to ask of you ; and I will 
give you everything that you can ask of me : you shall after 
that be entirely your own master ; I shall think you safe \ 
shall lay aside all authority over you ; and friendship shall 
be our mutual and only tie. Weigh this, I beg of you, 
deliberately in your own mind ; and consider, whether the 
application, and the degree of restraint, which I require but 



ro6 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

for one year more, will not be amply repaid by all the 
advantages, and the perfect liberty, which you will receive 
at the end of it. Your own good sense will, I am sure, not 
allow you to hesitate one moment in your choice. God 
bless you ! Adieu. 

P.S. Sir James Gray's letters not being yet sent me, as I 
thought they would, I shall enclose them in my next, which, 
I believe, will get to Venice as soon as you. 



LETTER XLI. 

DEAR BOY, London, May the I5th, O. S. 1749. 

THIS letter will, I hope, find you settled to your serious 
studies, and your necessary exercises, at Turin, after the 
hurry and dissipation of the Carnival at Venice. I mean 
that your stay at Turin should, and I flatter myself that it 
will, be a useful and ornamental period of your education ; 
but, at the same time, I must tell you, that all my affection 
for you has never yet given me so much anxiety, as that 
which I now feel. While you are in danger, I shall be in 
fear ; and you are in danger at Turin. Mr. Harte will, by 
his care, arm you as well as he can against it ; but your 
own good sense and resolution can alone make you 
invulnerable. I am informed there are now many English 
at the Academy at Turin ; and I fear those are just so 
many dangers for you to encounter. Who they are, I do 
not know; but I well know the general ill conduct, the 
indecent behaviour, and the illiberal views of my young 
countrymen abroad ; especially wherever they are in 
numbers together. Ill example is of itself dangerous 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 107 

enough ; but those who give it seldom stop there : they 
add their infamous exhortations and invitations; and, if 
these fail, they have recourse to ridicule ; which is harder 
for one of your age and inexperience to withstand, than 
either of the former. Be upon your guard, therefore, 
against these batteries, which will all be played upon you. 
You are not sent abroad to converse with your own 
countrymen : among them, in general, you will get little 
knowledge, no languages, and, I am sure, no manners. I 
desire that you will form no connections, nor (what they 
impudently call) friendships, with these people : which are, 
in truth, only combinations and conspiracies against good 
morals and good manners. There is commonly, in young 
people, a facility that makes them unwilling to refuse any- 
thing that is asked of them ; a mauvaise honte, that makes 
them ashamed to refuse; and, at the same time, an 
ambition of pleasing and shining in the company they 
keep ; these several causes produce the best effect in good 
company, but the very worst in bad. If people had no vices 
but their own, few would have so many as they have. For 
my own part, I would sooner wear other people's clothes 
than their vices ; and they would sit upon me just as well. 
I hope you will have none ; but, if ever you have, I beg at 
least they may be all your own. Vices of adoption are, of 
all others, the most disgraceful and unpardonable. There 
are degrees in vices, as well as in virtues ; and I must do 
my countrymen the justice to say, they generally take their 
vices in the lowest degree. Their gallantry is the infamous 
mean debauchery of stews, justly attended and rewarded by 
the loss of their health, as well as their character. Their 
pleasures of the table end in beastly drunkenness, low riot, 
broken windows, and very often (as they well deserve) 
broken bones. They game, for the sake of the vice, not of 



io8 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

the amusement ; and therefore carry it to excess ; undo, or 
are undone by, their companions. By such conduct and in 
such company abroad, they come home, the unimproved, 
illiberal, and ungentlemanlike creatures, that one daily sees 
them ; that is, in the Park, and in the streets, for one never 
meets them in good company; where they have neither 
manners to present themselves, nor merit to be received. 
But, with the manners of footmen and grooms, they assume 
their dress too ; for you must have observed them in the 
streets here, in dirty blue frocks, with oaken sticks in their 
hands, and their hair greasy and unpowdered, tucked up 
under their hats of an enormous size. Thus finished and 
adorned by their travels, they become the disturbers of 
playhouses ; they break the windows, and commonly the 
landlords, of the taverns where they drink ; and are at once 
the support, the terror, and the victims, of the bawdy- 
houses they frequent. These poor mistaken people think 
they shine, and so they do, indeed ; but it is as putrefaction 
shines, in the dark. 

I am not now preaching to you, like an old fellow, upon 
either religious or moral texts ; I am persuaded you do not 
want the best instructions of that kind : but I am advising 
you as a friend, as a man of the world, as one who would 
not have you old while you are young, but would have you 
take all the pleasures that rpn o inn pr 1 '"^ but, and that 
decency ^nrr Qnfg I will therefore suppose, for argument's 
sake (for upon no other account can it be supposed), that 
all the vices above-mentioned were perfectly innocent in 
themselves ; they would still degrade, vilify, and sink those 
who practised them ; would obstruct their rising in the 
world, by debasing their characters ; and give them a low 
turn of mind and manners, absolutely inconsistent with 
their making any figure in upper life, and great business. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 109 

What I have now said, together with your own good 
sense, is, I hope, sufficient to arm you against the seduc- 
tion, the invitations, or the profligate exhortations (for I 
cannot call them temptations) of those unfortunate young 
people. On the other hand, when they would engage you 
in these schemes, content yourself with a decent but steady 
refusal ; avoid controversy upon such plain points. You 
are too young to convert them, and, I trust, too wise to be 
converted by them. Shun them, not only in reality, but 
2ven in appearance, if you would be well received in good 
company ; for people will always be shy of receiving any 
man who comes from a place where the plague rages, let 
him look ever so healthy. There are some expressions, 
both in French and English, and some characters, both in 
those two and in other countries, which have, I dare say, 
misled many young men to their ruin. Une honntte 
debauche, une jolie debauche; an agreeable rake, a man of 
pleasure. Do not think that this means debauchery and 
profligacy : nothing like it. It means, at most, the 
accidental and unfrequent irregularities of youth and 
vivacity, in opposition to dulness, formality, and want of 
spirit. A commerce gallant, insensibly formed with a 
woman of fashion; a glass of wine or two too much 
unwarily taken, in the warmth and joy of good company ; 
or some innocent frolic, by which nobody is injured ; are 
the utmost bounds of that life of pleasure, which a man of 
sense and decency, who has a regard for his character, will 
allow himself, or be allowed by others. Those who 
transgress them in the hopes of shining miss their aim, and 
become infamous, or at least contemptible. 

The length or shortness of your stay at Turin will 
sufficiently inform me (even though Mr. Harte should not) 
of your conduct there ; for, as I have told you before, Mr. 

10 



no LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Harte has the strictest orders to carry you away immediately 
from thence, upon the first and least symptom of infection 
that he discovers about you ; and I know him to be too 
conscientiously scrupulous, and too much your friend and 
mine, not to execute them exactly. Moreover, I will in- 
form you that I shall have constant accounts of your 
behaviour from Comte Salmour, the Governor of the 
Academy, whose son is now here, and my particular friend. 
I have, also, other good channels of intelligence, of which I 
do not apprize you. But, supposing that all turns out well 
at Turin, yet, as I propose your being at Rome for the 
Jubilee at Christmas, I desire that you will apply yourself 
diligently to your exercises of dancing, fencing, and riding, 
at the Academy ; as well for the sake of your health and 
growth, as to fashion and supple you. You must not 
neglect your dress neither, but take care to be bien mis. 
Pray send for the best Operator for the teeth, at Turin, 
where, I suppose there is some famous one ; and let him 
put yours in perfect order; and then take care to keep 
them so, afterwards, yourself. You had very good teeth, 
and I hope they are so still ; but even those who have bad 
ones should keep them clean ; for a dirty mouth is, in my 
mind, ill manners. In short, neglect nothing that can 
possibly please. A thousand nameless little things, which 
nobody can describe, but which everybody feels, conspire 
to form that whole of pleasing; as the several pieces of 
a Mosaic work, though separately of little beauty or value, 
when properly joined, form those beautiful figures which 
please everybody. A look, a gesture, an attitude, a tone of 
voice, all bear their parts in the great work of pleasing. 
The art of pleasing is more particularly necessary in youi 
intended profession than perhaps in any other; it is, io 
truth, the first half of your business ; for if you do not 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. m 

please the Court you are sent to, you will be of very little 
use to the Court you are sent from. Please the eyes and 
the ears, they will introduce you to the heart ; and, nine 
times in ten, the heart governs the understanding. 

Make your court particularly, and show distinguished 
attentions, to such men and women as are best at Court, 
highest in the fashion, and in the opinion of the public; 
speak advantageously of them behind their backs, in com- 
panies who you have reason to believe will tell them again. 
Express your admiration of the many great men that the 
house of Savoy has produced ; observe, that nature, instead 
of being exhausted by those efforts, seems to have re- 
doubled them, in the persons of the present King, and the 
Duke of Savoy : wonder, at this rate, where it will end, and 
conclude that it will end in the government of all Europe. 
Say this, likewise, where it will probably be repeated ; but 
say it unaffectedly, and, the last especially, with a kind of 
enjouement. These little arts are very allowable, and must 
be made use of in the course of the world; they are 
pleasing to one party, useful to the othci, and injurious to 
nobody. 

What I have said, with regard to my countrymen in 
general, does not extend to them all without exception; 
there are some who have both merit and manners. Your 
friend, Mr. Stevens, is among the latter, and I approve of 
your connection with him. You may happen to meet with 
some others, whose friendship may be of great use to you 
hereafter, either from their superior talents, or their rank 
and fortune ; cultivate them : but then I desire that Mr. 
Harte may be the judge of those persons. 

Adieu, my dear child ! Consider seriously the import- 
ance of the two next years, to your character, your figure, 
and your fortune. 



ii2 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER XLII. 

DEAR BOY London, September the I2th, O. S. 1749. 

IT seems extraordinary, but it is very true, that my 
anxiety for you increases in proportion to the good accounts 
which I receive of you from all hands. I promise myself 
so much from you, that I dread the least disappointment. 
You are now so near the port, which I have so long 
wished and laboured to bring you into, that my concern 
would be doubled should you be shipwrecked within sight 
of it. The object, therefore, of this letter is (laying aside 
all the authority of a parent), to conjure you as a friend, 
by the affection you have for me (and surely you have 
reason to have some), and by the regard you have for 
yourself, to go on, with assiduity and attention, to complete 
that work, which, of late, you have carried on so well, 
and which is now so near being finished. ]^y wishes, and_ 
my plan, were to make you shine, and distinguish your- 
self equally in the learned and the polite world. Few 
have been able to do it. Deep learning is generally 
tainted with pedantry, or at least unadorned by manners ; 
as, on the other hand, polite manners, and the turn of 
the world, are too often unsupported by knowledge, and 
consequently end contemptibly in the frivolous dissipation 
of drawing-rooms and ruelles. You are now got over the 
dry and difficult parts of learning ; what remains requires 
much more time thai, trouble. You have lost time by 
your illness ; you must regain it now or never. I there- 
fore most earnestly desire, for your own sake, that for 
these next six months, at least six hours every morning, 
uninterruptedly, may be inviolably sacred to your studies 
with Mr. Harte. I do not know whether he will require 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 113 

so much, but I know that I do, and hope you will, and 
consequently prevail with him to give you that time: I 
own it is a good deal ; but when both you and he consider, 
that the work will be so much better and so much sooner 
done, by such an assiduous and continued application, 
you will neither of you think it too much, and each will 
find his account in it. So much for the mornings which, 
from your own good sense, and Mr. Harte's tenderness 
and care of you, will, I am sure, be thus well employed. 
It is not only reasonable, but useful, too, that your evenings 
should be devoted to amusements and pleasures; and 
therefore I not only allow, but recommend, that they 
should be employed at assemblies, balls, spectacles, and 
in the best companies ; with this restriction only, that 
the consequences of the evening's diversions may not 
break in upon the morning's studies, by breakfastings, 
visits, and idle parties into the country. At your age, you 
need not be ashamed, when any of these morning parties 
are proposed, to say you must beg to be excused, for 
you are obliged to devote your mornings to Mr. Harte; 
that I will have it so; and that you dare not do other- 
wise. Lay it all upon me, though I am persuaded it will 
be as much your own inclination as it is mine. But those 
frivolous, idle people, whose time hangs upon their own 
hands, and who desire to make others lose theirs too, 
are not to be reasoned with; and indeed it would be 
doing them too much honour. The shortest civil answers 
are the best ; / cannot, I dare not, instead of / will not; 
for, if you were to enter with them into the necessity of 
study, and the usefulness of knowledge, it would only 
furnish them with matter for their silly jests; which, 
though I would not have you mind, I would not have 
you invite I will suppose you at Rome, studying six 



H4 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

hours interruptedly with Mr. Harte, every morning, and 
passing your evenings with the best company of Rome, 
observing their manners and forming your own ; and I will 
suppose a number of idle, sauntering, illiterate English, as 
there commonly is there, living entirely with one another, 
supping, drinking, and sitting up late at each other's 
lodgings; commonly in riots and scrapes when drunk; 
and never in good company when sober. I will take 
one of these pretty fellows, and give you the dialogue 
between him and yourself; such as I dare say it will be 
on his side, and such as I hope it will be on yours. 

Englishman. Will you come and breakfast with me 
to-morrow ; there will be four or five of our countrymen ; 
we have provided chaises, and we will drive somewhere 
out of town after breakfast ? 

Stanhope. I am very sorry I cannot, but I am obliged 
to be at home all morning. 

Englishman Why, then, we will come and breakfast with 
you. 

Stanhope. I can't do that neither, I am engaged. 

Englishman. Well, then, let it be the next day. 

Stanhope. To tell you the truth, it can be no day in 
the morning, for I neither go out nor see anybody at 
home before twelve. 

Englishman. And what the devil do you do with your- 
self till twelve o'clock ? 

StanJiope. I am not by myself, I am with Mr. Harte. 

Englishman. Then what the devil do you do with him ? 

Stanhope. We study different things; we read, we converse. 

Englishman. Very pretty amusement indeed ! Are you 
to take Orders, then ? 

Stanhope. Yes, my father's orders, I believe, I must take. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 115 

Englishman. Why, hast thou no more spirit than to mind 
an old fellow a thousand miles off? 

Stanhope. If I don't mind his orders he won't mind my 
draughts. 

Englishman. What, does the old prig threaten, then? 
threatened folks live long ; never mind threats. 

Stanhope. No, I can't say that he has ever threatened me 
in his life ; but I believe I had best not provoke him. 

Englishman. Pooh 1 you would have one angry letter 
from the old fellow, and there would be an end of it 

Stanhope. You mistake him mightily ; he always does 
more than he says. He has never been angry with me 
yet, that I remember, in his life ; but if I were to provoke 
him I am sure he would never forgive me ; he would be 
coolly immovable, and I might beg and pray, and write 
my heart out to no purpose. 

Englishman. Why, then, he is an old dog, that's all I can 
say; and pray, are you to obey your dry-nurse too, this 
same, what's his name Mr. Harte ? 

Stanhope. Yes. , 

Englishman. So he stuffs you all morning with Greek, 
and Latin, and Logic, and all that. Egad, I have a dry- 
nurse, too, but I never looked into a book with him in 
my life ; I have not so much as seen the face of him this 
week, and don't care a louse if I never see it again. 

Stanhope. My dry-nurse never desires anything of me 
that is not reasonable and for my own good, and therefore 
I like to be with him. 

Englishman. Very sententious and edifying, upon my 
word! at this rate you will be reckoned a very good 
young man. 

Stanhope. Why, that will do me no harm. 

Englishman. Will you be with us to-morrow in the 



n6 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

evening, then ? We shall be ten with you, and I have got 
some excellent good wine, and we'll be very merry. 

Stanhope. I am very much obliged to you, but I am 
engaged for all the evening to-morrow; first at Cardinal 
Albani's, and then to sup at the Venetian Embassadress's. 

Englishman. How the devil can you like being always 
with these foreigners ? I never go amongst them, with 
all their formalities and ceremonies. I am never easy in 
company with them, and I don't know why, but I am 
ashamed. 

Stanhope. I am neither ashamed nor afraid ; I am very 
easy with them ; they are very easy with me ; I get the 
language, and I see their characters by conversing with 
them; and that is what we are sent abroad for. Is it 
not? 

Englishman. I hate your modest women's company ; 
your women of fashion, as they call 'em. I don't know 
what to say to them, for my part. 

Stanhope. Have you ever conversed with them ? 

Englishman. No. I never conversed with them ; but I 
have been sometimes in their company, though much 
against my will. 

Stanhope. But at least they have done you no hurt, 
which is, probably, more than you can say of the women 
you do converse with. 

Englishman. That's true, I own ; but for all that, I 
would rather keep company with my surgeon half the year 
than with your women of fashion the year round. 

Stanhope. Tastes are different, you know, and every man 
follows his own. 

Englishman. That's true ; but thine's a devilish odd one, 
Stanhope. All morning with thy dry-nurse, all the evening 
in formal fine company, and all day long afraid of old 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 117 

Daddy in England. Thou art a queer fellow, and I am 
afraid there's nothing to be made of thee. 

Stanhope. I am afraid so too. 

Englishman. Well then, good-night to you ; you have no 
objection, I hope, to my being drunk to-night, which I 
certainly will be. 

Stanhope. Not in the least ; nor to your being sick to- 
morrow, which you as certainly will be ; and oo good-night 
too. 

You will observe that I have not put into your mouth 
those good arguments which upon such an occasion would, 
I am sure, occur to you, as piety and affection towards me, 
regard and friendship for Mr. Harte, respect for your own 
moral character, and for all the relative duties of Man, Son, 
Pupil, and Citizen. Such solid arguments would be thrown 
away upon such shallow puppies. Leave them to their 
ignorance, and to their dirty, disgraceful vices. They will 
severely feel the effects of them, when it will be too late. 
Without the comfortable refuge of learning, and with all the 
sickness and pains of a ruined stomach, and a rotten 
carcass, if they happen to arrive at old age, it is an uneasy 
and ignominious one. The ridicule which such fellows 
endeavour to throw upon those who are not like them is, in 
the opinion of all men of sense, the most authentic 
panegyric. Go on, then, my dear child, in the way you 
are in, only for a year and half more ; that is all I ask of 
you. After that, I promise that you shall be your own 
master, and that I will pretend to no other title than that of 
your best and truest friend. You shall receive advice, but 
no orders, from me ; and in truth you will want no other 
advice but such as youth and inexperience must necessarily 
require. You shall certainly want nothing that is requisite, 



n8 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

not only for your conveniency, but also for your pleasures, 
which I always desire should be gratified. You will suppose 
that I mean the pleasures (Fun honntte homme. 

While you are learning Italian, which I hope you do with 
diligence, pray take care to continue your German, which 
you may have frequent opportunities of speaking ; I would 
also have you keep up your knowledge of the Jus Publicum 
Impcrii, by looking over now and then those inestimable 
manuscripts which Sir Charles Williams, who arrived here 
last week, assures me you have made upon that subject. 
It will be of very great use to you when you come to be 
concerned in foreign affairs, as you shall be (if you qualify 
yourself for them) younger than ever any other was ; I 
mean, before you are twenty. Sir Charles tells me that he 
will answer for your learning, and that he believes you will 
acquire that address and those graces which are so necessary 
to give it its full lustre and value. But he confesses that he 
doubts more of the latter than of the former. The justice 
which he does Mr. Harte, in his panegyrics of him, makes 
me hope that there is likewise a great deal of truth in his 
encomiums of you. Are you pleased with and proud of the 
reputation which you have already acquired ? Surely you 
are, for I am sure I am. Will you do anything to lessen or 
forfeit it? Surely you will not. And will you not do all 
you can to extend and increase it ? Surely you will. It is 
only going on for a year and a half longer, as you have gone 
on for the two years last past, and devoting half the day 
only to application; and you will be sure to make the 
earliest figure and fortune in the world that ever man made. 
Adieu. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 119 



LETTER XLIII. 

DEAR BOY, London, September the 22nd, O. S. 1749. 

IF I had faith in philters and love potions, I should 
suspect that you had given Sir Charles Williams some, by 
the manner in which he speaks of you, not only to me, but 
to everybody else. I will not repeat to you what he says 
of the extent and correctness of your knowledge, as it 
might either make you vain, or persuade you that you had 
already enough of what nobody can have too much. You 
will easily imagine how many questions I asked, and how 
narrowly I sifted him upon your subject ; he answered me, 
and I dare say with truth, just as I could have wished ; till, 
satisfied entirely with his accounts of your character and 
learning, I inquired into other matters, intrinsically indeed 
of less consequence, but still of great consequence to every 
man, and of more to you than to almost any man ; I mean 
your address, manners, and air. To these questions, the 
same truth which he had observed before, obliged him to 
give me much less satisfactory answers. And, as he 
thought himself, in friendship both to you and me, obliged 
to tell me the disagreeable, as well as the agreeable truths, 
upon the same principle I think myself obliged to repeat 
them to you. 

He told me, then, that in company you were frequently 
most provokintfy inattentive, absent, and distrait. That you 
came into a room and presented yourself very awkwardly; 
that at table you constantly threw down knives, forks, 
napkins, bread, etc., and that you neglected your person 
and dress, to a degree unpardonable at any age, and much 
more so at yours. 

These things, how immaterial soever they may seem to 



120 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

people who do not know the world and the nature of man- 
kind, give me, who know them to be exceedingly material, 
very great concern. I have long distrusted you, and 
therefore frequently admonished you, upon these articles; 
and I tell you plainly that I shall not be easy till I hear a 
very different account of them. I know no one thing more 
offensive to a company than that inattention and distraction. 
It is showing them the utmost contempt, and people never 
forget contempt. No man is distrait with the man he fears, 
or the woman he loves ; which is a proof that every man 
can get the better of that distraction when he thinks it 
worth his while to do so ; and, take my word for it, it is 
always worth his while. For my own part, I would rather 
be in company with a dead man than with an absent one; 
for if the dead man gives me no pleasure, at least he shows 
me no contempt ; whereas the absent man, silently indeed, 
but very plainly, tells me that he does not think me worth 
his attention. Besides, can an absent man make any 
observations upon the characters, customs, and manners 
of the company ? No. He may be in the best companies 
all his lifetime (if they will admit him, which, if I were 
they, I would not) and never be one jot the wiser. I never 
will converse with an absent man; one may as well talk 
to a deaf one. It is in truth a practical blunder to address 
ourselves to a man, who we see plainly neither hears, 
minds, nor understands us. Moreover, I aver that no man 
is, in any degree, fit for either business or conversation, 
who cannot, and does not, direct and command his atten- 
tion to the present object, be that what it will. You know 
by experience that I grudge no expense in your education, 
but I will positively not keep you a Flapper. You may 
read in Dr. Swift the description of these Flappers, and the 
use they were of to your friends the Laputans, whose minds 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. iax 

(Gulliver says) are so taken up with intense speculations 
that they neither can speak nor attend to the discourses of 
others, without being roused by some external action upon 
the organs of speech and hearing ; for which reason those 
people who are able to afford it always keep a Flapper in 
their family as one of their domestics, nor ever walk about 
or make visits without him. This Flapper is likewise 
employed diligently to attend his master in his walks, and 
upon occasion to give a soft flap upon his eyes, because 
he is always so wrapped up in cogitation that he is in 
manifest danger of falling down every precipice, and 
bouncing his head against every post, and, in the streets, 
of jostling others, or being jostled into the kennel himself. 
If Christian will undertake this province into the bargain, 
with all my heart, but I will not allow him any increase of 
wages upon that score. In short, I give you fair warning 
that when we meet, if you are absent in mind, I will soon 
be absent in body, for it will be impossible for me to stay 
in the room ; and if at table you throw down your knife, 
plate, bread, etc., and hack the wing of a chicken for half 
an hour without being able to cut it off, and your sleeve 
all the time in another dish, I must rise from table to 
escape the fever you would certainly give me. Good God ! 
how I should be shocked if you came into my room for the 
first time with two left legs, presenting yourself with all the 
graces and dignity of a Tailor, and your clothes hanging 
upon you like those in Monmouth Street, upon tenter- 
hooks ! whereas I expect, nay, require to see you present 
yourself with the easy and genteel air of a Man of Fashion 
who has kept good company. I expect you not only well 
dressed, but very well dressed : I expect a gracefulness in 
all your motions, and something particularly engaging in 
your address. All this I expect, and all this is in your 



122 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

power, by care and attention, to make me find ; but to tell 
you the plain truth, if I do not find it, we shall not 
converse very much together, for I cannot stand inattention 
and awkwardness ; it would endanger my health. You have 

often seen, and I have as often made you observe, L 's 

distinguished inattention and awkwardness. Wrapped up, 
like a Laputan, in intense thought, and possibly sometimes 
in no thought at all ; which I believe is very often the case 
of absent people ; he does not know his most intimate 
acquaintance by sight, or answers them as if he were at 
cross-purposes. He leaves his hat in one room, his sword 
in another, and would leave his shoes in a third, if his 
buckles, though awry, did not save them : his legs and 
arms, by his awkward management of them, seem to have 
undergone the Question extraordinaire; and his head, 
always hanging upon one or other of his shoulders, seems 
to have received the first stroke upon a block. I sincerely 
value and esteem him for his Parts, Learning, and Virtue; 
but for the soul of me I cannot love him in company. 
This will be universally the case in common life, of every 
inattentive, awkward man, let his real merit and knowledge 
be ever so great. When I was of your age I desired to 
shine, as far as I was able, in every part of life ; and was 
as attentive to my Manners, my Dress, and my Air, in 
company on evenings, as to my Books and my Tutor in the 
mornings. A young fellow should be ambitious to shine in 
everything; and, of the two, always rather overdo than 
underdo. These things are by no means trifles ; they are 
of infinite consequence to those who are to be thrown into 
the great world, and who would make a figure or a fortune 
in it. It is not sufficient to deserve well ; one must please 
well too. Awkward, disagreeable merit will never carry 
anybody far. Wherever you find a good dancing-master, 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 133 

pray let him put you upon your haunches ; not so much 
for the sake of dancing, as for coming into a room, and 
presenting yourself genteelly and gracefully. Women, 
whom you ought to endeavour to please, cannot forgive a 
vulgar and awkward air and gestures; // leur faut du 
brillant. The generality of men are pretty like them, and 
are equally taken by the same exterior graces. 

I am very glad that you have received the diamond 
buckles safe : all I desire, in return for them, is, that they 
may be buckled even upon your feet, and that your stock- 
ings may not hide them. I should be sorry you were 
an egregious fop ; but I protest that, of the two, I would 
rather have you a Fop than a Sloven. I think negligence 
in my own dress, even at my age, when certainly I expect 
no advantages from my dress, would be indecent with 
regard to others. I have done with fine clothes; but I 
will have my plain clothes fit me, and made like other 
people's. In the evenings, I recommend to you the com- 
pany of women of fashion, who have a right to attention, 
and will be paid it. Their company will smooth your 
manners, and give you a habi: of attention and respect ; of 
which you will find the advantage among men. 

My plan for you, from the beginning, has been to make 
you sHme, equally in the learned and in the polite world ; 
the former part is almost completed to my wishes, and will, 
I am persuaded, in a little time more, be quite so. The 
latter part is still in your power to complete ; and I flatter 
myself that you will do it, or else the former part will 
avail you very little, especially in your department, where 
the exterior address and graces do half the business ; they 
must be the harbingers of your merit, or your merit will 
be very coldly received: all can and do judge of the 
former, few of the latter. 



124 LOXD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Mr. Harte tells me that you have grown very much 
since your illness: if you get up to five feet ten, or 
even nine, inches, your figure will, probably, be a good 
one ; and, if well dressed and genteel, will probably 
please, which is a much greater advantage to a man than 
people commonly think. Lord Bacon calls it a letter of 
recommendation . 

I would wish you to be the omnis homo^ fhomme 
universe!. You are nearer it, if you please, than ever any- 
body was at your age ; and if you will but, for the course 
of this next year only, exert your whole attention to your 
studies in the mornings, and to your address, manners, 
air, and tournure^ in the evenings, you will be the man 
I wish you, and the man that is rarely seen. 

Our letters go, at best, so irregularly, and so often 
miscarry totally, that, for greater security, I repeat the 
same things. So, though I acknowledge by last post 
Mr. Harte's letter of the 8th September, N.S., I acknow- 
ledge it again by this to you. If this should find you still 
at Verona, let it inform you that I wish you would set out 
soon for Naples, unless Mr. Harte should think it better 
for you to stay at Verona, or any other place on this side 
Rome, till you go there for the Jubilee. Nay, if he likes 
it better, I am very willing that you should go directly from 
Verona to Rome ; for you cannot have too much of Rome, 
whether upon account of the language, the curiosities, or 
the company. My only reason for mentioning Naples is 
for the sake of the climate, upon account of your health ; 
but if Mr. Harte thinks your health is now so well restored 
as to be above climate, he may steer your course wherever 
he thinks proper ; and, for aught I know, your going 
directly to Rome, and consequently staying there so much 
the longer, may be as well as anything else. I think you 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 125 

and I cannot put our affairs in better hands than in 
Mr. Harte's ; and I will take his infallibility against the 
Pope's, with some odds on his side. A propos of the 
Pope; remember to be presented to him before you leave 
Rome, and go through the necessary ceremonies for it, 
whether of kissing his slipper or his b h ; for I would 
never deprive myself of anything that I wanted to do or 
see, by refusing to comply with an established custom. 
When I was in Catholic countries, I never declined 
kneeling in their churches at the elevation, nor elsewhere, 
when the Host went by. It is a complaisance due to 
the custom of the place, and by no means, as some silly 
people have imagined, an implied approbation of their 
doctrine. Bodily attitudes and situations are things so 
very indifferent in themselves, that I would quarrel with 
nobody about them. It may, indeed, be improper for Mr. 
Harte to pay that tribute of complaisance, upon account 
of his character. 

This letter is a very long, and possibly a very tedious 
one, but my anxiety for your perfection is so great, and 
particularly at this critical and decisive period of your life, 
that I am only afraid of omitting, but never of repeating, 
or dwelling too long upon anything that I think may be of 
the least use to you. Have the same anxiety for yourself 
that I have for you, and all will do well. Adieu ! my dear 
child. 



LETTER XLIV. 

DEAR BOY, London, September the 2;th, O. S. 1749. 

A VULGAR, ordinary way of thinking, acting, or speaking, 
implies a low education, and a habit of low company. 

ii 



126 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Young people contract it at school, or among servants, 
with whom they are too often used to converse : but, after 
they frequent good company, they must want attention and 
observation very much, if they do not lay it quite aside. 
And indeed if they do not, good company will be very apt 
to lay them aside. The various kinds of vulgarisms are 
infinite; I cannot pretend to point them out to you; but I 
will give you some samples, by which you may guess at the 
rest. 

A vulgar man is captious and jealous ; eager and impetu- 
ous aliout trifles. He suspects himself to be slighted, 
thinks everything that is said meant at him ; if the company 
happens to laugh, he is persuaded they laugh at him ; he 
grows angry and testy, says something very impertinent, 
and draws himself into a scrape, by showing what he calls a 
proper spirit, and asserting himself. A man of fashion does 
not suppose himself to be either the sole or principal object 
of the thoughts, looks, or words of the company ; and never 
suspects that he is either slighted or laughed at, unless he is 
conscious that he deserves it. And if (which very seldom 
happens) the company is absurd or ill-bred enough to do 
either, he does not care twopence, unless the insult be so 
gross and plain as to require satisfaction of another kind. 
As he is above trifles, he is never vehement and eager 
about them ; and, wherever they are concerned, rather 
acquiesces than wrangles. A vulgar man's conversation 
always savours strongly of the lowness of his education 
and company. It turns chiefly upon his domestic affairs, 
his servants, the excellent order he keeps in his own family, 
and the little anecdotes of the neighbourhood ; all which 
he relates with emphasis, as interesting matters. He is a 
man gossip. 

Vulgarism in language is the next and distinguishing 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 127 

characteristic of bad company and a bad education. A 
man of fashion avoids nothing with more care than that 
Proverbial expressions and trite sayings are the flowers of 
the rhetoric of a vulgar man. Would he say that men 
differ in their tastes, he both supports and adorns that 
opinion by the good old saying, as he respectfully calls it, 
that what is one man's Meat is another man's Poison. If 
anybody attempts being smart, as he calls it, upon him, he 
gives them Tit for Tat, ay, that he does. He has always 
some favourite word for the time being, which, for the sake 
of using often, he commonly abuses. Such as vastly angry, 
vastly kind, vastly handsome, and vastly ugly. Even his 
pronunciation of proper words carries the mark of the beast 
along with it. He calls the earth yearth ; he is obkiged not 
obliged to you. He goes to wards and not towards such 
a place. He sometimes affects hard words, by way of 
ornament, which he always mangles like a learned woman. 
A man of fashion never has recourse to proverbs and vulgar 
aphorisms, uses neither favourite words nor hard words ; but 
takes great care to speak very correctly and grammatically, 
and to pronounce properly ; that is, according to the usage 
of the best companies. 

An awkward address, ungraceful attitudes and actions, 
and a certain left-handedness (if I may use that word), 
loudly proclaim low education and low company ; for it is 
impossible to suppose that a man can have frequented good 
company, without having catched something, at least, of their 
air and motions. A new raised man is distinguished in a 
regiment by his awkwardness ; but he must be impenetrably 
dull if, in a month or two's time, he cannot perform at least 
the common manual exercise, and look like a soldier. 
The very accoutrements of a man of fashion are grievous 
encumbrances to a vulgar man. He is at a loss what to do 



128 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

with his hat, when it is not upon his head ; his cane (if 
unfortunately he wears one) is at perpetual war with every 
cup of tea or coffee he drinks ; destroys them first, and 
then accompanies them in their fall. His sword is formid- 
able only to his own legs, which would possibly carry him 
fast enough out of the way of any sword but his own. His 
clothes fit him so ill, and constrain him so much, that he 
seems rather their prisoner than their proprietor. He 
presents himself in company like a criminal in a court of 
justice; his very air condemns him; and people of fashion 
will no more connect themselves with the one, than people 
of character will with the other. This repulse drives and 
sinks him into low company ; a gulf from whence no man, 
after a certain age, ever emerged. 

x " Lts manures nobles et aisees, la tournure d'un homme de 
condition, le ton de la bonne compagnie, les Graces, le je nt 
sais quoi, qui plait, are as necessary to adorn and introduce 
your intrinsic merit and knowledge, as the polish is to the 
diamond, which, without that polish, would never be worn, 
whatever it might weigh. Do not imagine that these 
accomplishments are only useful with women; they are 
much more so with men. In a public assembly, what an 
advantage has a graceful speaker, with genteel motions, a 
handsome figure, and a liberal air, over one who shall 
speak full as much good sense, but destitute of these 
ornaments ! In business, how prevalent are the graces, 
how detrimental is the want of them ! By the help of these 
I have known some men refuse favours less offensively than 
others granted them. The utility of them in Courts, and 
Negotiations, is inconceivable. You gain the hearts and 
consequently the secrets, of nine in ten that you have to 
do with, in spite even of their prudence, which will, nine 
times in ten, be the dupe of their hearts, and of their 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 129 

senses. Consider the importance of these things as they 
deserve, and you will not lose one moment in the pursuit 
of them. 

You are travelling now in a country once so famous both 
for arts and arms, that (however degenerated at present) it 
still deserves your attention and reflection. View it there- 
fore with care, compare its former with its present state, 
and examine into the causes of its rise, and its decay. 
Consider it classically and politically, and do not run 
through it, as too many of your young countrymen do, 
musically, and (to use a ridiculous word) knick-knackically. 
No piping nor fiddling, I beseech you; no days lost in 
poring upon almost imperceptible Intaglios and Canicos : 
and do not betome a Virtuoso of small wares. Form a 
taste of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, if you please, 
by a careful examination of the works of the best ancient 
and modern artists ; those are liberal arts, and a real taste 
and knowledge of them become a man of fashion very well. 
But, beyond certain bounds, the Man of Taste ends, and 
the frivolous Virtuoso begins. 

Your friend Mendes, the good Samaritan, dined with me 
yesterday. He has more good nature and generosity than 
parts. However, I will show him all the civilities that his 
kindness to you so justly deserves; he tells me that you 
are taller than I am, which I am very glad of. I desire 
you may excel me in everything else too; and, far from 
repining, I shall rejoice at your superiority. He commends 
your friend Mr. Stevens extremely; of whom, too, I have 
heard so good a character from other people, that I am 
very glad of your connection with him. It may prove of 
use to you hereafter. When you meet with such sort of 
Englishmen abroad, who, either from their parts or their 
rank, are likely to make a figure at home, I would advise 



1 30 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

you to cultivate them, and get their favourable testimony of 
you here, especially those who are to return to England 
before you. Sir Charles Williams has puffed you (as the 
mob called it) here extremely. If three or four more 
people of parts do the same, before* you come back, your 
first appearance in London will be to great advantage. 
Many people do, and indeed ought, to take things upon 
trust ; many more do who need not ; and few dare dissent 
from an established opinion. Adieu. 



LETTER XLV. 

DEAR BOY, London, November the 24th, O. S. 1749. 

EVERY rational being (I take it for granted) proposes to 
himself some object more important than mere respiration 
and obscure animal existence. He desires to distinguish 
himself among his fellow-creatures ; and, alicui negotio 
intentus^ pradari fatinoris, aut artis bona, famam qucerit. 
Caesar, when embarking in a storm, said that it was not 
necessary he should live, but that it was absolutely necessary 
he should get to the place to which he was going. And 
Pliny leaves mankind this only alternative ; either of doing 
what deserves to be written, or of writing what deserves to 
be read. As for those who do neither, eorum vitam mor- 
temque juxta astumo ; quoniam de utraque siletur. You 
have, I am convinced, one or both of these objects in view; 
but you must know and use the necessary means, or your 
pursuit will be vain and frivolous. In either case, sapere 
cst prindpium et fons ; but it is by no means all. That 
knowledge must be adorned, it must have lustre as well as 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 13! 

weight, or it will be oftener taken for Lead than for Gold. 
Knowledge you have, and will have : I am easy upon that 
article. But my business, as your friend, is not to com- 
pliment you upon what you have, but to tell you with 
freedom what you want ; and I must tell you plainly that I 
fear you want everything but knowledge. 

I have written to you so often of late upon Good Breed- 
ing, Address, les Miantires liantes^ the Graces, etc., that I 
shall confine this letter to another subject, pretty near akin 
to them, and which, I am sure, you are full as deficient in ; 
I mean, Style. 

Style is the dress of thoughts ; and let them be ever so 
just, if your style is homely, coarse, and vulgar, they will 
appear to as much disadvantage, and be as ill received, as 
your person, though ever so well-proportioned, would if 
dressed in rags, dirt, and tatters. It is not every under- 
standing that can judge of matter ; but every ear can and 
does judge, more or less, of style : and were I either to 
speak or write to the public, I should prefer moderate 
matter, adorned with all the beauties and elegancies ot 
style, to the strongest matter in the world, ill worded and 
ill delivered. Your business is, Negotiation abroad and 
Oratory in the House of Commons at home. What figure 
can you make in either case, if your style be inelegant, I do 
not say bad ? Imagine yourself writing an office-letter to a 
Secretary of State, which letter is to be read by the whole 
Cabinet Council, and very possibly afterwards laid before 
Parliament ; any one barbarism, solecism, or vulgarism in it 
would, in a very few days, circulate through the whole 
kingdom, to your disgrace and ridicule. For instance ; I 
will suppose you had written the following letter from the 
Hague, to the Secretary of State at London ; and leave you 
to suppose the consequences of it. 



132 LORD 

MY LORD, 

I had, last night, the honour of your Lordship's letter 
of the 24th, and will set about doing the orders contained 
therein; and if so be that 1 can get that affair done by the 
next post, I will not fail for to give your Lordship an 
account of it by next post. I have told the French Minister, 
as how, that if that affair be not soon concluded, your 
Lordship would think it all long of him; and that he must 
have neglected for to have wrote to his Court about it. I 
must beg leave to put your Lordship in mind, as how that I 
am now full three quarters in arrear ; and if so be that I do 
not very soon receive at least one half year, I shall cut a 
very bad figure, for this here place is very dear. I shall be 
vastly beholden to your Lordship for that there mark of your 
favour ; and so I rest, or remain, Your, etc. 

You will tell me, possibly, that this is a caricatura of an 
illiberal and inelegant style ; I will admit it : but assure 
you, at the same time, that a dispatch with less than half 
these faults would blow you up for ever. It is by no means 
sufficient to be free from faults in speaking and writing; 
you must do both correctly and elegantly. In faults of this 
kind it is not ille optimus qui minimis urgetur; but he is 
unpardonable who has any at all, because it is his own 
fault : he need only attend to, observe, and imitate the best 
authors. 

! It is a very true saying, that a man must be born a Poet, 
but that he may make himself an Orator ; and the very first 
principle of an Orator is, to speak his own language par- 
ticularly, with the utmost purity and elegancy. A man will 
be forgiven even great errors in a foreign language, but in 
his own even the least slips are justly laid hold of and 
ridiculed. 



LETTERS TO HIS SOA\ 133 

A person of the House of Commons, speaking two years 
ago upon naval affairs, asserted that' we had then the finest 
navy upon the face of the yearth. This happy mixture of 
blunder and vulgarism, you may easily imagine, was matter 
of immediate ridicule ; but I can assure you that it con- 
tinues so still, and will be remembered as long as he lives 
and speaks. Another, speaking in defence of a gentleman 
upon whom a censure was moved, happily said, that he 
thought that gentleman was more liable to be thanked and 
rewarded, than censured. You know, I presume, that liable 
can never be used in a good sense. 

You have with you three or four of the best English 
Authors, Dryden, Atterbury, and Swift ; read them with the 
utmost care, and with a particular view to their language ; 
and they may possibly correct that curious infelicity oj 
diction^ which you acquired at Westminster. Mr. Harte 
excepted, I will admit that you have met with very few 
English abroad, who could improve your style ; and with 
many, I dare say, who speak as ill as yourself, and it may 
be worse ; you must, therefore, take the more pains, and 
consult your authors, and Mr. Harte, the more. I need not 
tell you how attentive the Romans and Greeks, particularly 
the Athenians, were to this object. It is also a study 
among the Italians and the French, witness their respective 
Academies and Dictionaries, for improving and fixing their 
languages. To our shame be it spoken, it is less attended 
to here than in any polite country ; but that is no reason 
why you should not attend to it ; on the contrary, it 
will distinguish you the more. Cicero says, very truly, that 
it is glorious to excel other men in that very article, in which 
men excel brutes ; speech. 

Constant experience has shown me, that great purity and 
elegance of style, with a graceful elocution, cover a multitude 



T 3 4 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

of faults, in either a speaker or a writer. For my own part, 
I confess (and I believe most people are of my mind) that 
if a speaker should ungracefully mutter or stammer out to 
me the sense of an angel, deformed by barbarisms and 
solecisms, or larded with vulgarisms, he should never speak 
to me a second time, if I could help it. Gain the heart, or 
you gain nothing ; the eyes and the ears are the only roads 
to the heart. Merit and knowledge will not gain hearts, 
though they will secure them when gained. Pray have that 
truth ever in your mind. Engage the eyes, by your address, 
air, and motions; soothe the ears, by the elegancy and 
harmony of your diction : the heart will certainly follow ; 
and the whole man, or woman, will as certainly follow the 
heart. I must repeat it to you, over and over again, that, 
with all the knowledge which you may have at present, or 
hereafter acquire, and with all the merit that ever man had, 
if you have not a graceful address, liberal and engaging 
manners, a prepossessing air, and a good degree of eloquence 
in speaking and writing, you will be nobody : but will have 
the daily mortification of seeing people, with not one tenth 
part of your merit or knowledge, get the start of you, and 
disgrace you, both in company and in business. 

You have read Quintilian, the best book in the world to 
form an Orator ; pray read Cicero, de Oratore^ the best 
book in the world to finish one. Translate and retranslate, 
from and to Latin, Greek, and English ; make yourself a 
pure and elegant English style : it requires nothing but 
application. I do not find that God has made you a Poet ; 
and I am very glad that He has not ; therefore, for God's 
sake, make yourself an Orator, which you may do. 
Though I still call you boy, I consider you no longer as 
such ; and when I reflect upon the prodigious quantity of 
manure that has been laid upon you, I expect you should 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 135 

produce more at eighteen than uncultivated soils do at 
eight and twenty. 

Pray tell Mr. Harte I have received his letter of the 13th, 
N. S. Mr. Smith was much in the right not to let you go, 
at this time of the year, by sea ; in the summer you may 
navigate as much as you please: as, for example, from 
Leghorn to Genoa, etc. Adieu. 



LETTER 

DEAR BOY, London, December the gth, 1749. 

IT is now above forty years since I have never spoken 
nor written one single word without giving myself at least 
one moment's time to consider whether it was a good one 
or a bad one, and whether I could not find out a better in 
its place. An unharmonious and rugged period, at this 
time, shocks my ears ; and I, like all the rest of the world, 
will willingly exchange and give up some degree of rough 
sense, for a good degree of pleasing sound. I will freely 
and truly own to you, without either vanity or false 
modesty, that whatever reputation I have acquired as a 
speaker is more owing to my constant attention to my 
diction, than to my matter, which was necessarily just the 
same of other people's. When you come into Parliament, 
your reputation as a speaker will depend much more upon 
your words, and your periods, than upon the subject. The 
same matter occurs equally to everybody of common 
sense, upon the same question ; the dressing it well is what 
excites the attention and admiration of the audience. 

It is in Parliament that I have set my heart upon youi 



136 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

making a figure ; it is there that I want to have you justly 
proud of yourself, and to make me justly proud of you. 
This means that you must be a good speaker there ; I use 
the word must, because I know you may if you will. The 
vulgar, who are always mistaken, look upon a Speaker and 
a Comet with the same astonishment and admiration, 
taking them both for preternatural phenomena. This 
error discourages many young men from attempting that 
character; and good speakers are willing to have their 
talent considered as something very extraordinary, if not a 
peculiar gift of God to His elect. But let you and I analyze 
and simplify this good speaker ; let us strip him of those 
adventitious plumes, with which his own pride, and the 
ignorance of others have decked him, and we shall find the 
true definition of him to be no more than this : A man of 
good common sense, who reasons justly, and expresses 
himself elegantly on that subject upon which he speaks. 
There is surely no witchcraft in this. A man of sense, 
without a superior and astonishing degree of parts, will not 
talk nonsense upon any subject ; nor will he, if he has the 
least taste or application, talk inelegantly. What, then, 
does all this mighty art and mystery of speaking in Parlia- 
ment amount to ? Why, no more than this, That the man 
who speaks in the House of Commons, speaks in that 
House, and to four hundred people, that opinion, upon a 
given subject, which he would make no difficulty of 
speaking in any house in England, round the fire, or at 
table, to any fourteen people whatsoever ; better judges, 
perhaps, and severer critics of what he says, than any 
fourteen gentlemen of the House of Commons. 

I have spoken frequently in Parliament, and not always 
without some applause; and therefore I can assure you, 
from my experience, that there is very little in . it. The 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 137 

elegancy of the style, and the turn of the periods, make the 
chief impression upon the hearers. Give them but one or 
two round and harmonious periods in a speech, which they 
will retain and repeat; and they will go home as well satisfied 
as people do from an Opera, humming all the way one or 
two favourite tunes that have struck their ears and were 
easily caught. Most people have ears, but few have judg- 
ment; tickle those ears, and depend upon it you will catch 
their judgments, such as they are. 

Cicero, conscious that he was at the top of his profession 
(for in his time Eloquence was a profession), in order to set 
himself off, defines, in his Treatise de Oratore, an Orator to 
be such a man as never was, or never will be ; and, by this 
fallacious argument, says, that he must know every art and 
science whatsoever, or how shall he speak upon them ? 
But with submission to so great an authority, my definition 
of an Orator is extremely different from, and I believe 
much truer than his. I_call that man an Orator who 
reasons justly, and expresses himself elegantly upon what- 
ever subject he treats. Problems in Geometry, Equations 
in Algebra, Processes in Chymistry, and Experiments in 
Anatomy, are never, that I have heard of, the objects of 
Eloquence; and therefore I humbly conceive that a man 
may be a very fine speaker, and yet know nothing of 
Geometry, Algebra, Chymistry, or Anatomy. The subjects 
of all Parliamentary debates are subjects of common sense 
singly. 

Thus I write whatever occurs to me, that I think may 
contribute either to form or inform you. May my labour 
not be in vain ! and it will not, if you will but have half the 
concern for yourself that I have for you. Adieu. 



138 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER XLVII. 

DEAR BOY, London, December the I2th, O. S. 1749. 

LORD CLARENDON, in his history, says of Mr. John 
Hampden, that he had a head to contrive, a tongue to 
persuade, and a hand to execute, any mischief. I shall not 
now enter into the justness of this character of Mr. 
Hampden, to whose brave stand against the illegal demand 
of ship-money we owe our present liberties ; but I 
mention it to you as the character which, with the altera- 
tion of one single word, Good, instead of Mischief, I would 
have you aspire to, and use your utmost endeavours to 
deserve. The head to contrive, God must to a certain 
degree have given you ; but it is in your own power greatly 
to improve it by study, observation, and reflection. As for 
the tongue to persuade, it wholly depends upon yourself; 
and without it the best head will contrive to very little 
purpose. The hand to execute depends, likewise, in 
my opinion, in a great measure upon yourself. Serious 
reflection will always give courage in a good cause ; and 
the courage arising from reflection is of a much superior 
nature to the animal and constitutional courage of a foot 
soldier. The former is steady and unshaken, where the 
nodus is dignus vindice; the latter is oftener improperly than 
properly exerted, but always brutally. 

The second member of my text (to speak ecclesiastically) 
shall be the subject of my following discourse ; the tongue 
to persuade. As judicious Preachers recommend those 
virtues which they think their several audiences want the 
most : such as truth and continence at Court ; dis- 
interestedness in the City ; and sobriety in the Country. 

You must certainly, in the course of your little 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 139 

experience, have felt the different effects of elegant and 
inelegant speaking. Do you not suffer when people 
accost you in a stammering or hesitating manner : in an 
untuneful voice, with false accents and cadences ; puzzling 
and blundering through solecisms, barbarisms, and vulgar- 
isms ; misplacing even their bad words, and inverting all 
method ? Does not this prejudice you against their matter, 
be it what it will ; nay, even against their persons ? I am 
sure it does me. On the other hand, do you not feel your- 
self inclined, prepossessed, nay, even engaged in favour of 
those who address you in the direct contrary manner ? 
The effects of a correct and adorned style of method and 
perspicuity, are incredible towards persuasion ; they often 
supply the want of reason and argument, but when used 
in the support of reason and argument they are irresistible. 
The French attend very much to the purity and elegancy 
of their style, even in common conversation ; insomuch 
that it is a character, to say of a man, gu'il narre bien. 
Their conversations frequently turn upon the delicacies of 
their language, and an Academy is employed in fixing it 
The Crusca, in Italy, has the same object ; and I have met 
with very few Italians who did not speak their own 
language correctly and elegantly. How much more 
necessary is it for an Englishman to do so who is to speak 
it in a public assembly, where the laws and liberties of his 
country are the subjects of his deliberation ? The tongue 
that would persuade there must not content itself with mere 
articulation. You know what pains Demosthenes took to 
correct his naturally bad elocution; you know that he 
declaimed by the seaside in storms, to prepare himself for 
the noise of the tumultuous assemblies he was to speak to ; 
and you can now judge of the correctness and elegancy of 
his style. He thought all these things of consequence, and 



140 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

t 

he thought right ; pray do you think so too. It is of the 
utmost consequence to you to be of that opinion Tf you 
have the least defect in your elocution, take the utmost care 
and pains to correct it. Do not neglect your style, what- 
ever language you speak in, or whomever you speak to, 
were it your footman. Seek always for the best words and 
the happiest expressions you can find. Do not content 
yourself with being barely understood; but adorn your 
thoughts, and dress them as you would your person ; 
which, however well proportioned it might be, it would be 
very improper and indecent to exhibit naked, or even worse 
dressed than people of your sort are. 

I have sent you, in a packet which your Leipsig acquaint- 
ance, Duval, sends to his correspondent at Rome, Lord 
Bolingbroke's book, which he published about a year ago. 
I desire that you will read it over and over again, with 
particular attention to the style, and to all those beauties 
of Oratory with which it is adorned. Till I read that book, 
I confess I did not know all the extent and powers of the 
English language. Lord Bolingbroke has both a tongue 
and a pen to persuade ; his manner of speaking in private 
conversation is full as elegant as his writings ; whatever 
subject he either speaks or writes upon, he adorns it with 
the most splendid eloquence; not a studied or laboured 
eloquence, but such a flowing happiness of diction, which 
(from care perhaps at first) is become so habitual to him, 
that even his most familiar conversations, if taken down in 
writing, would bear the Press, without the least correction 
either as to method or style. If his conduct, in the former 
part of his life, had been equal to all his natural and 
acquired talents, he would most justly have merited the 
epithet of all-accomplished. He is himself sensible of his 
past errors : those violent passions, which seduced him 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 141 

in his youth, have now subsided by age ; and, take him as 
he is now, the character of all-accomplished is more his due 
than any man's I ever knew in my life. 

But he has been a most mortifying instance of the 
violence of human passions, and of the weakness of the 
most exalted human reason. His virtues and his vices, his 
reason and his passions, did not blend themselves by a 
gradation of tints, but formed a shining and sudden 
contrast. 

Here the darkest, there the most splendid, colours, 
and both rendered more shining from their proximity. 
Impetuosity, excess, and almost extravagancy, characterised 
not only his passions, but even his senses. His youth was 
distinguished by all the tumult and storm of pleasures, in 
which he most licentiously triumphed, disdaining all 
decorum. His fine imagination has often been heated and 
exhausted with his body, in celebrating and deifying the 
prostitute of the night ; and his convivial joys were pushed 
to all the extravagancy of frantic Bacchanals. Those 
passions were interrupted but by a stronger, Ambition. 
The former impaired both his constitution and his 
character, but the latter destroyed both his fortune and 
his reputation. 

He has noble and generous sentiments, rather than fixed 
reflected principles of good nature and friendship ; but they 
are more violent than lasting, and suddenly and often 
varied to their opposite extremes, with regard even to the 
same persons. He receives the common attentions of 
civility as obligations, which he returns with interest ; and 
resents with passion the little inadvertencies of human 
nature, which he repays with interest too. Even a 
difference of opinion upon a philosophical subject would 
provoke, and prove him no practical Philosopher, at least. 

12 



142 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Notwithstanding the dissipation of his youth, and the 
tumultuous agitation of his middle age, he has an infinite 
fund of various and almost universal knowledge, which, 
from the clearest and quickest conception, and happiest 
memory, that ever man was blessed with, he always carries 
about him. It is his pocket-money, and he never has 
occasion to draw upon a book for any sum. He excels 
more particularly in History, as his historical works plainly 
prove. The relative Political and Commercial interests of 
every country in Europe, particularly of his own, are better 
known to him than perhaps to any man in it; but how 
steadily he has pursued the latter, in his public conduct, 
his enemies, of all parties and denominations, tell with joy. 

He engaged young, and distinguished himself in busi- 
ness ; and his penetration was almost intuition. I am old 
enough to have heard him speak in Parliament. And I 
remember, that though prejudiced against him by party, I 
felt all the force and charms of his eloquence. Like Belial, 
in Milton, " he made the worse appear the better cause." 
All the internal and external advantages and talents of 
an Orator are undoubtedly his. Figure, voice, elocution, 
knowledge, and, above all, the purest and most florid 
diction, with the justest metaphors and happiest images, 
had raised him to the post of Secretary at War, at four-and- 
twenty years old ; an age at which others are hardly thought 
fit for the smallest employments. 

During his long exile in France he applied himself to 
study with his characteristical ardour ; and there he formed, 
and chiefly executed, the plan of a great philosophical 
work The common bounds of human knowledge are too 
narrow for his warm and aspiring imagination. He must 
go extra flammantia mania Mundi, and explore the 
unknown and unknowable regions of Metaphysics; which 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 143 

open an unbounded field for the excursions of an ardent 
imagination ; where endless conjectures supply the defect of 
unattainable knowledge, and too often usurp both its name 
and influence. 

He has had a very handsome person, with a most 
engaging address in his air and manners : he has all the 
dignity and good breeding which a man of quality should 
or can have, and which so few, in this country at least, 
really have. 

He professes himself a Deist; believing in a general 
Providence, but doubting of, though by no means rejecting, 
(as is commonly supposed,) the immortality of the soul, and 
a future state. 

Upon the whole, of this extraordinary man, what can we 
say, but alas, poor human nature ! 

In your destination you will have frequent occasions to 
speak in public ; to Princes and States abroad ; to the 
House of Commons, at home ; judge then, whether 
Eloquence is necessary for you or not ; not only common 
Eloquence, which is rather free from faults, than adorned 
by beauties, but the highest, the most shining degree of 
eloquence. For God's sake, have this object always in 
your view, and in your thoughts. Tune your tongue early 
to persuasion; and let no jarring, dissonant accents ever 
fall from it. Contract a habit of speaking well, upon every 
occasion, and neglect yourself in no one. Eloquence and 
good breeding, alone, with an exceeding small degree of 
parts and knowledge, will carry a man a great way; with 
your parts and knowledge, then, how far will they not carry 
you ? Adieu. 



144 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER XLVIII. 

DEAR BOY, London, January the 8th, O. S. 1750. 

I HAVE seldom or never written to you upon the 
subject of Religion and Morality : your own reason, I am 
persuaded, has given you true notions of both ; they speak 
best for themselves ; but, if they wanted assistance, you 
have Mr. Harte at hand, both for precept and example: 
to_you? own reason, therefore, and to Mr. Harte, shall I 
refer you, for the Reality of both ; and confine myself, in 
this letter, to the decency, the utility, and the necessity of 
scrupulously preserving the appearances of both. When I 
say the appearances of religion, I do not mean that you 
should talk or act like a Missionary, or an Enthusiast, nor 
that you should take up a controversial cudgel against 
whoever attacks the sect you are of; this would be both 
useless, and unbecoming your age : but I mean that you 
should by no means seem to approve, encourage, "or 
applaud, those libertine notions, which strike at religions 
equally, and which are the poor threadbare topics of half 
Wits, and minute Philosophers. Even those who are silly 
enough to laugh at their jokes are still wise enough to 
distrust and detest their characters: for, putting moral 
virtues at the highest, and religion at the lowest, religion^ 
must still be allowed to be a collateral security, at least, to 
Virtue ; and every prudent man will sooner trust to two 
securities than to one. Whenever, therefore, you happen to 
be in company with those pretended Esprits forts> or with 
thoughtless libertines, who laugh at all religion to show 
their wit, or disclaim it to complete their riot, let no word 
or look of yours intimate the least approbation ; on the 
contrary, let a silent gravity express your dislike : but enter 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 145 

not into the subject, and decline such unprofitable and 
indecent controversies. Depend upon this truth, That 
every man is the worse looked upon, and the less trusted, 
for being thought to have no religion; in spite of all the 
pompous and specious epithets he may assume, of Esprit 
ort) Free-thinker, or Moral Philosopher; and a wise 
Atheist (if such a thing there is) would, for his own interest, 
and character in this world, pretend to some religion. 

Your moral character must be not only pure^but, like 
Caesar's wife, unsuspected. The least speck or blemish 
upon it is fatal. Nothing degrades and vilifies more, for it 
excites and unites detestation and r on tempt. There are, 
however, wretches in the world profligate enough to explode 
all notions of moral good and evil ; to maintain that they 
are merely local, and depend entirely upon the customs 
and fashions of different countries : nay, there are still, if 
possible, more unaccountable wretches ; I mean those who 
affect to preach and propagate such absurd and infamous 
notions, without believing them themselves. These are the 
devil's hypocrites. Avoid, as much as possible, the com- 
pany of such people ; who reflect a degree of discredit and 
infamy upon all who converse with them. But as you may 
sometimes, by accident, fall into such company, take great 
care that no complaisance, no good-humour, no warmth of 
festal mirth, ever make you seem even to acquiesce, much 
less to approve or applaud, such infamous doctrines. On the 
other hand, do not debate, nor enter into serious argument, 
upon a subject so much below it : but content yourself with 
telling these Apostles^ that you know they are not serious ; 
that you have a much better opinion of them than they 
would have you have ; and that you are very sure they would 
not practise the doctrine they preach. But put your private 
mark upon them, and shun them for ever afterwards. 



146 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

There is nothing so delicate as your Moral character, and 
nothing which it is your interest so much to preserve pure. 
Should you be suspected of Injustice, Malignity, Per- 
fidy, Lying, etc., all the parts and knowledge in the world 
will never procure you esteem, friendship, or respect. A 
strange concurrence of circumstances has sometimes raised 
very bad men to high stations ; but they have been 
raised like criminals to a pillory, where their persons 
and their crimes, by being more conspicuous, are only the 
more known, the more detested, and the more pelted and 
insulted. If, in any case whatsoever, affectation and 
ostentation are pardonable, it is in the case of morality; 
though, even there, I would not advise you to a pharisaical 
pomp of virtue. But I will recommend to you a most 
scrupulous tenderness for your moral character, and the 
utmost care not to say or do the least thing that may, ever 
so slightly, taint it. Show yourself, upon all occasions, the 
advocate, the friend, but not the bully, of Virtue. Colonel 
Chartres, whom you have certainly heard of (who was, I 
believe, the most notorious blasted rascal in the world, and 
who had, by all sorts of crimes, amassed immense wealth), 
was so sensible of the disadvantage of a bad character, that 
I heard him once say, in his impudent, profligate manner, 
that though he would not give one farthing for Virtue, he 
would give ten thousand pounds for a character ; because 
he should get a hundred thousand pounds by it: whereas he 
was so blasted that he had no longer an opportunity of 
cheating people. Is it possible, then, that an honest 
man can neglect what a wise rogue would purchase so 
dear ? 

There is one of the vices above-mentioned, into which 
people of good education, and, in the main, of good 
principles, sometimes fall, from mistaken notions of skill, 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 147 

^^ 'v 

dexterity, and self-defence; I mean Lying: though it is 
inseparably attended with more infamy and loss than any 
other. The prudence and necessity of often concealing 
the truth insensibly seduces people to violate it. It is 
the only art of mean capacities, and the only refuge of 
mean spirits. Whereas concealing the truth, upon proper 
occasions, is as prudent and as innocent, as telling a lie, 
upon any occasion, is infamous and foolish. I will state you 
a case In your own department Suppose you are employed 
at a foreign Court, and that the Minister of that Court 
is absurd or impertinent enough to ask you what your 
instructions are ; will you tell him a lie ; which, as soon 
as found out, and found out it certainly will be, must 
destroy your credit, blast your character, and render you 
useless there? No. Will you tell him the truth, then, 
and betray your trust ? As certainly, No. But you will 
answer, with firmness, That you are surprised at such a 
question; that you are persuaded he does not expect an 
answer to it ; but that, at all events, he certainly will not 
have one. Such an answer will give him confidence in 
you; he will conceive an opinion of your veracity, of 
which opinion you may afterwards make very honest and 
fair advantages. But if, in negotiations, you are looked 
upon as a liar, and a trickster, no confidence will be 
placed in you, nothing will be communicated to you, and 
you will be in the situation of a man who has been 
burnt in the cheek; and who, from that mark, cannot 
afterwards get an honest livelihood, if he would, but 
must continue a thief. 

Lord Bacon very justly makes a distinction between 
Simulation and Dissimulation ; and allows the latter rather 
than the former: but still observes, that they are the 
weaker sort of Politicians who have recourse to either. 



148 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

A man who has strength of mind, and strength of parts, 
wants neither of them. Certainly (says he) the ablest 
men that ever were have all had an openness and frank- 
ness of dealing, and a name of certainty and veracity; but 
then they were like horses well managed ; for they could 
tell) passing we!!, when to stop, or turn : and at such times, 
when they thought the case indeed required some dissimula- 
tion, if then they used it, it came to pass that the former 
opinion spread abroad, of their good faith and clearness of 
dealing, made them almost invisible. There are people 
who indulge themselves in a sort of lying, which they 
reckon innocent, and which in one sense is so; for it 
hurts nobody but themselves. This sort of lying is the 
spurious offspring of vanity, begotten upon folly : these 
people deal in the marvellous; they have seen some 
things that never existed; they have seen other things 
which they never really saw, though they did exist, only 
because they were thought worth seeing. Has anything 
remarkable been said or done in any place, or in any 
company ? they immediately present and declare them- 
selves eye or ear witnesses of it. They have done feats 
themselves, unattempted, or at least unperformed, by 
others. They are always the heroes of their own fables ; 
and think that they gain consideration, or at least present 
attention, by it. Whereas, in truth, all they get is ridicule 
and contempt, not without a good degree of distrust : for 
one must naturally conclude, that he who will tell any 
lie from idle vanity, will not scruple telling a greater for 
interest. Had I really seen anything so very extraordinary 
as to be almost incredible, I would keep it to myself, 
rather than, by telling it, give any one body room to 
doubt for one minute my veracity. It is most certain 
ihat the reputation of chastity is not so necessary for a 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 149 

woman, as that of veracity is for a man : and with 
reason : for it is possible for a woman to be virtuous 
though not strictly chaste; but it is not possible for a 
man to be virtuous without strict veracity. The slips of 
the poor women are some times mere bodily frailties; 
but a lie in a man is a vice of the mind, and of the 
heart. For God's sake, be scrupulously jealous of the 
purity of your moral character; keep it immaculate, 
unblemished, unsullied; and it will be unsuspected. 
Defamation and calumny never attack, where there is no 
weak place ; they magnify, but they do not create. 

There is a very great difference between that purity of 
character, which I so earnestly recommend to you, and 
the Stoical gravity and austerity of character, which I do 
by no means recommend to you. At your age, I would 
no more wish you to be a Cato, than a Clodius. Be, and 
be reckoned, a man of pleasure, as well as a man of 
business. Enjoy this happy and giddy time of your life; 
shine in the pleasures and in the company of people of 
your own age. This is all to be done, and indeed only 
can be done, without the least taint to the purity of your 
moral character: for those mistaken young fellows, who 
think to shine by an impious or immoral licentiousness, 
shine only from their stinking, like corrupted flesh, in 
the dark. Without this purity, you can have no dignity of 
character, and without dignity of character it is impossible 
to rise in the world. You must be respectable r if yon 
will ^ A rfifipfiftfd I have known people slattern away 
their character, without really polluting it; the conse- 
quence of which has been, that they have become 
innocently contemptible; their merit has been dimmed, 
their pretensions unregarded, and all their views defeated. 
Character m,ut hp Vppf hright-j QS urnll IB rlflTn Content 



I 5 o LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

yourself with mediocrity in nothing. In purity of character, 
and in politeness of manners, labour to excel all, if you 
wish to equal many. Adieu. 



LETTER XLIX. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, January the 1 8th, O. S. 1750. 

I CONSIDER the solid part of your little edifice as so near 
being finished and completed, that my only remaining care 
is about the embellishments; and that must now be your 
principal care too. Adorn yourself with all those graces 
and accomplishments, which, without solidity, are frivolous ; 
but without which, solidity is to a great degree useless. 
Take one man, with a very moderate degree of knowledge, 
but with a pleasing figure, a prepossessing address, graceful 
in all that he says and does, polite, Kant, and, in short, 
adorned with all the lesser talents ; and take another man, 
with sound sense and profound knowledge, but without the 
above-mentioned advantages ; the former will not only get 
the better of the latter, in every pursuit of every kind, but 
in truth there will be no sort of competition between them. 
But can every man acquire these advantages ? I say, Yes, 
if he please ; supposing he is in a situation, and in circum- 
stances, to frequent good company. Attention, observa- 
tion, and imitation, will most infallibly do it When you 
see a man, whose first abord strikes you, prepossesses you 
in his favour, and makes you entertain a good opinion of 
him, you do not know why ; analyze that abord, and 
examine within yourself the several parts that composed it ; 
and you will generally find it to be the result, the happy 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 151 

assemblage of modesty unembarrassed, respect without 
timidity, a genteel but unaffected attitude of body and 
limbs, an open, cheerful, but unsmirking countenance, and a 
dress, by no means negligent, and yet not foppish. Copy 
him, then, not servilely, but as some of the greatest masters 
of painting have copied others ; insomuch that their copies 
have been equal to the originals, both as to beauty and 
freedom. When you see a man, who is universally allowed 
to shine as an agreeable, well-bred man, and a fine gentle- 
man (as, for example, the Duke de Nivernois), attend to 
him, watch him carefully ; observe in what manner he 
addresses himself to his superiors, how he lives with his 
equals, and how he treats his inferiors. Mind his turn of 
conversation, in the several situations of morning visits, the 
table, and the evening amusements. Imitate, without 
mimicking him ; and be his duplicate, but not his ape. 
You will find that he takes care never to say or do anything 
that can be construed into a slight or a negligence, or that 
can, in any degree, mortify people's vanity and self-love: 
on the contrary, you will perceive that he makes people 
pleased with him, by making them first pleased with them- 
selves: he shows respect, regard, esteem, and attention, 
where they are severally proper ; he sows them with care, 
and he reaps them in plenty. 

These amiable accomplishments are all to be acquired 
by use and imitation ; for we are, in truth, more than half 
what we are by imitation. The great point is, to choose 
good models, and to study them with care. People insen- 
sibly contract, not only the air, the manners, and the vices 
of those with whom they commonly converse, but their 
virtues, too, and even their way of thinking. This is so 
true, that I have known very plain understandings catch a 
certain degree of wit, by constantly conversing with those 



j S 2 LORD CHESTERFIELDS 

who had a great deal. Persist, therefore, in keeping the 
best company, and you will insensibly become like them ; 
but if you add attention and observation, you will very soon 
be one of them. This inevitable contagion of company 
shows you the necessity of keeping the best, and avoiding 
all other; for in every one something will stick. You have 
hitherto, I confess, had very few opportunities of keeping 
polite company. Westminster School is, undoubtedly, the 
seat of illiberal manners and brutal behaviour. Leipsig, I 
suppose, is not the seat of refined and elegant manners. 
Venice, I believe, has done something ; Rome, I hope, will 
do a great deal more; and Paris will, I dare say, do all 
that you want : always supposing that you frequent the 
best companies, and in the intention of improving and 
forming yourself; for without that intention, nothing 
will do. 

I here subjoin a list of all those necessary ornamental 
accomplishments (without which, no man living can either 
please, or rise in the world), which hitherto I fear you 
want, and which only require your care and attention to 
possess. 

To speak elegantly, whatever language you speak in; 
without which nobody will hear you with pleasure, and, 
consequently, you will speak to very little purpose. 

An agreeable and distinct elocution ; without which 
nobody will hear you with patience : this everybody may 
acquire, who is not born with some imperfection in the 
organs of speech. You are not ; and therefore it is wholly 
in your power. You need take much less pains for it than 
Demosthenes did. 

A distinguished politeness of manners and address; 
which common sense, observation, good company, and 
imitation, will infallibly give you, if you will accept of it. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 153 

A genteel carriage, and graceful motions, with the air of a 
man of fashion. A good dancing-master, with some care 
on your part, and some imitation of those who excel, will 
soon bring this about. 

To be extremely clean in your person, and perfectly well 
dressed, according to the fashion, be that what it will. 
Your negligence of dress, while you were a schoolboy, was 
pardonable, but would not be so now. 

Upon the whole, take it for granted, that, without these 
accomplishments all you know, and all you can do, will 
avail you very little. Adieu. 



LETTER L. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, February the 5th, O. S. 1750. 

VERY few people are good economists of their Fortune, 
and still fewer of their Time ; and yet, of the two, the 
latter is the most precious. I heartily wish you to be a 
good economist of both ; and you are now of an age to 
begin to think seriously of these two important articles. 
Young people are apt to think they have so much time 
before them, that they may squander what they please of it, 
and yet have enough left; as very great fortunes have 
frequently seduced people to a ruinous profusion. Fatal 
mistakes, always repented of, but always too late I Old 
Mr. Lowndes, the famous Secretary of the Treasury, in 
the reigns of King William, Queen Anne, and King George 
the First, used to say, Take care of the pence^ and the pounds 
will take care of themselves. To this maxim, which he not 



i 5 4 LORD CHESTERFIELDS 

only preached, but practised, his two grandsons, at this 
time, owe the very considerable fortunes that he left 
them. 

This holds equally true as to time ; and I most earnestly 
recommend to you the care of those minutes and quarters 
of hours, in the course of the day, which people think too 
short to deserve their attention ; and yet, if summed up at 
the end of the year, would amount to a very considerable 
portion of time. For example; you are to be at such a 
place at twelve, by appointment; you go out at eleven, 
to make two or three visits first ; those persons are not at 
home: instead of sauntering away that intermediate time 
at a coffee-house, and possibly alone, return home, write 
a letter, beforehand, for the ensuing post, or take up a good 
book, I do not mean Descartes, Mallebranche, Locke, or 
Newton, by way of dipping, but some book of rational 
amusement, and detached pieces, as Horace, Boileau, 
Waller, La Bruyere, etc. This will be so much time saved, 
and by no means ill employed. Many people lose a great 
deal of time by reading ; for they read frivolous and idle 
books, such as the absurd Romances of the two last 
centuries ; where characters, that never existed, are insipidly 
displayed, and sentiments, that were never felt, pompously 
described : the oriental ravings and extravagancies of the 
Arabian Nights, and Mogul Tales; or the new flimsy 
brochures that now swarm in France, of Fairy Tales, 
Reflexions sur le Caur et PEsprit^ Metaphysique de I' Amour, 
Analyse des beaux Sentiments; and such sort of idle 
frivolous stuff, that nourishes and improves the mind just 
as much as whipped cream would the body. Stick to the 
best established books in every language; the celebrated 
Poets, Historians, Orators, or Philosophers. By these 
means (to use a city metaphor) you will make fifty per 



LETTERS TO HIS SOX. 155 

tent, of that time, of which others do not make above 
three or four, or probably nothing at all. 

Many people lose a great deal of their time by laziness ; 
they loll and yawn in a great chair, tell themselves that they 
have not time to begin anything then, and that it will do as 
well another time. This is a most unfortunate disposition, 
and the greatest obstruction to both knowledge and 
business. At your age, you have no right nor claim to 
laziness ; I have, if I please, being emeritus. You are but 
just listed in the world, and must be active, diligent, inde- 
fatigable. If ever you propose commanding with dignity, 
you must serve up to it with diligence. Never put off till 
to-morrow what you can do to-day. 

Dispatch is the soul of business \ and nothing contributes 
more to Dispatch, than Method. Lay down a method for 
everything, and stick to it inviolably, as far as unexpected 
incidents may allow. Fix one certain hour and day in the 
week for your accompts, and keep them together in their 
proper order ; by which means they will require very little 
time, and you can never be much cheated. Whatever 
letters and papers you keep, docket and tie them up in 
their respective classes, so that you may instantly have 
recourse to any one. Lay down a method also for your 
reading, for which you allot a certain share of your 
mornings ; let it be in a consistent and consecutive course, 
and not in that desultory and immethodical manner, in 
which many people read scraps of different authors, upon 
different subjects. Keep a useful and short common-place 
book of what you read, to help your memory only, and 
not for pedantic quotations. Never read History without 
having maps, and a chronological book, or tables, lying by 
you, and constantly recurred to ; without which, History 
is only a confused heap of facts. One method more I 



i 5 6 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

recommend to you, by which I have found great benefit, 
even in the most dissipated part of my life ; that is, to rise 
early, and at the same hour every morning, how late soever 
you may have sat up the night before. This secures you an 
hour or two, at least, of reading or reflection, before the 
common interruptions of the morning begin ; and it will 
save your constitution, by forcing you to go to bed early, at 
least one night in three. 

You will say, it may be, as many young people would, 
that all this order and method is very troublesome, only fit 
for dull people, and a disagreeable restraint upon the noble 
spirit and fire of youth. I deny it ; and assert, on the 
contrary, that it will procure you both more time and more 
taste for your pleasures ; and so far from being troublesome 
to you, that after you have pursued it a month it would be 
troublesome to you to lay it aside. Business whets the 
appetite, and gives a taste to pleasures, as exercise does to 
food : and business can never be done without method : 
it raises the spirits for pleasure ; and a spectacle^ a ball, an 
assembly, will much more sensibly affect a man who has 
employed, than a man who has lost, the preceding part of 
the day ; nay, I will venture to say, that a fine lady will 
seem to have more charms to a man of study or business, 
than to a saunterer. The same listlessness runs through 
his whole conduct, and he is as insipid in his pleasures as 
inefficient in everything else. 

I hope you earn your pleasures, and consequently taste 
them ; for, by the way, I know a great many men, who call 
themselves Men of Pleasure, but who, in truth, have none. 
They adopt other people's indiscriminately, but without 
any taste of their own. I have known them often inflict 
excesses upon themselves, because they thought them 
genteel ; though they sat as awkwardly upon them as other 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 157 

people's clothes would have done. Have no pleasures but 
your own, and then you will shine in them. What are 
yours ? Give me a short history of them. Tenez-vous votre 
coin d table, et dans les bonnes compagnies ? y brillez-vous du 
cote de la politesse, de l*enjouement, du badinage ? Etes-vous 
galant? Filez-vous le parfait amour ? Est-il question de 
flechir par vos soins et par vos attentions les rigueurs de 
quelque fiere Princesse ? You may safely trust me ; for, 
though I am a severe censor of Vice and Folly, I am a 
friend and advocate for Pleasures, and will contribute all 
in my power to yours. 

There is a certain dignity to be kept up in pleasures, as 
well as in business. In love, a man may lose his heart 
with dignity ; but if he loses his nose, he loses his character 
into the bargain. At table, a man may with decency have 
a distinguishing palate ; but indiscriminate voraciousness 
degrades him to a glutton. A man may play with decency; 
but if he games, he is disgraced. Vivacity and wit make 
a man shine in company ; but trite jokes and loud laughter 
reduce him to a buffoon. Every virtue, they say, has its 
kindred vice ; every pleasure, I am sure, has its neighbour- 
ing disgrace. Mark carefully, therefore, the line that 
separates them, and rather stop a yard short, than step an 
inch beyond it. 

I wish to God that you had as much pleasure in follow- 
ing my advice, as I have in giving it you ; and you may 
the easier have it, as I give you none that is inconsistent 
with your pleasure. In all that I say to you, it is your 
interest alone that I consider : trust to my experience ; you 
know. you may to my affection. Adieu. 

I have received no letter yet, from you or Mr. Harte. 



158 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

LETTER LI. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, February the 8th, O. S. 1750. 

You have by this time, I hope and believe, made such 
a progress in the Italian language that you can read it 
with ease ; I mean the easy books in it : and indeed, 
in that, as well as in every other language, the easiest 
books are generally the best; for, whatever author is 
obscure and difficult, in his own language, certainly does 
not think clearly. This is, in my opinion, the case of a 
celebrated Italian author; to whom the Italians, from 
the admiration they have of him, have given the epithet 
of il divino ; I mean Dante. Though I formerly knew 
Italian extremely well, I could never understand him ; for 
which reason I had done with him, fully convinced that 
he was not worth the pains necessary to understand him. 

The good Italian authors are, in my mind, but few; 
I mean authors of invention; for there are, undoubtedly, 
very good Historians, and excellent Translators. The 
two Poets worth your reading, and, I was going to say, 
the only two, are Tasso and Ariosto. Tasso's Gierusalemme 
Liberata is altogether unquestionably a fine Poem, though 
it has some low and many false thoughts in it: and 
Boileau very justly makes it the mark of a bad taste, 
to compare le Clinquant dtt Tassc & FOr de Virgik. 
The image with which he adorns the introduction of his 
Epic Poem, is low and disgusting ; it is that of a froward, 
sick, puking child, who is deceived into a dose of necessary 
physic by du bon bon. The verses are these : 

"Cosi all' egro fanciul porgiamo aspersi 
Di soavi licor gli orli del vaso : 
Succhi amari ingannato intanto ei beve, 
E dall' inganno suo vita riceve. " 



LETTERS TO HIS SON 159 

However, the Poem, with all its faults about it, may 
justly be called a fine one. 

If fancy, imagination, invention, description, etc., con- 
stitute a Poet, Ariosto is, unquestionably, a great one. 
His Orlando, it is true, is a medley of lies and truths, 
sacred and profane, wars, loves, enchantments, giants, 
mad heroes, and adventurous damsels : but then, he gives 
it you very fairly for what it is, and does not pretend to 
put it upon you for the true Epoph, or Epic Poem. He 

says, 

" Le Donne, i Cavalier, I'arme, gli amori 
Le cortesie, 1'audaci imprese, io canto." 

The connections of his stories are admirable, his reflec- 
tions just, his sneers and ironies incomparable, and his 
painting excellent. When Angelica, after having wandered 
over half the world alone with Orlando, pretends, not- 
withstanding, 

" ch'el fior virginal cosi avea salvo, 

Come selo port6 dal matera' alvo ; " 

the Author adds, very gravely, 

" Forse era ver, ma non per6 credibile 
A chi del senso suo fosse Signore." 

Astolpho's being carried to the moon, by St John, in 
order to Io6k for Orlando's lost wits, at the end of the 
34th book, and the many lost things that he finds there, 
is a most happy extravagancy, and contains, at the same 
time, a great deal of sense. I would advise you to read 
this Poem with attention. It is, also, the source of half 
the tales, novels, and plays, that have been written since. 

The Pastor Fido of Guarini is so celebrated, that you 
should read it ; but in reading it you will judge of the 



160 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

great propriety of the characters. A parcel of shepherds 
and shepherdesses, with the true pastoral simplicity, talk 
metaphysics, epigrams, concetti and quibbles, by the hour, 
to each other. 

The Aminta del Tasso is much more what it is intended 
to be, a Pastoral ; the shepherds, indeed, have their concetti^ 
and their antitheses, but are not quite so sublime and 
abstracted as those in Pastor Fido. I think that you will 
like it much the best of the two. 

Petrarca is, in my mind, a sing-song love-sick Poet; 
much admired, however, by the Italians: but an Italian, 
who should think no better of him than I do, would 
certainly say, that he deserved his Laura better than his 
Lauro; and that wretched quibble would be reckoned an 
excellent piece of Italian wit. 

The Italian Prose writers (of invention I mean), which I 
would recommend to your acquaintance, are Machiavello and 
Bocaccio; the former, for the established reputation which 
he has acquired, of a consummate Politician (whatever my 
own private sentiments may be of either his politics or his 
morality): the latter, for his great invention, and for his 
natural and agreeable manner of telling his stones. 

Guicciardini, Bentivoglio, Divila, etc., are excellent 
Historians, and deserve being read with attention. The 
nature of History checks, a little, the flights of Italian 
imaginations ; which, in works of invention, are very high 
indeed. Translations curb them still more; and their 
translations of the Classics are incomparable; particularly 
the first ten, translated in the time of Leo the Xth, and 
inscribed to him, under the title of the Collana. That 
original Collana has been lengthened since ; and, if I 
mistake not, consists, now, of one hundred and ten 
volumes. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 161 

From what I have said you will easily guess that I meant 
to put you upon your guard ; and not to let your fancy be 
dazzled and your taste corrupted, by the concetti^ the 
quaintnesses, and false thoughts, which are too much the 
characteristics of the Italian and Spanish authors. I think 
you are in no great danger, as your taste has been formed 
upon the best ancient models ; the Greek and Latin 
authors of the best ages, who indulge themselves in none 
of the puerilities I have hinted at. I think I may say, with 
truth, that true wit, sound taste, and good sense, are now 
as it were engrossed by France and England. Your old 
acquaintances, the Germans, I fear are a little below them ; 
and your new acquaintances, the Italians, are a great dea. 
too much above them. The former, I doubt, crawl a little ; 
the latter, I am sure, very often fly out of sight. 

I recommended to you, a good many years ago, and I 
believe you then read, La Manilre de bien penser dans les 
Ouvrages d* Esprit , par le Plre Bouhours ; and I think it is 
very well worth your reading again, now that you can judge 
of it better. I do not know any book that contributes 
more to form a true taste; and you find there, into the 
bargain, tne mo ct celebrated passages, both of the ancients 
and the moderns; which refresh your memory with what 
you have formerly read in them separately. It is followed 
by a book much of the same size, by the same author, 
entitled, Suite des Pensees ingenieuses. 

To do justice to the best English and French authors, 
they have not given in to that false taste; they allow no 
thoughts to be good that are not just and founded upon 
truth. The Age of Lewis XIV. was very like the Augustan ; 
Boileau, Moliere, la Fontaine, Racine, etc., established the 
true and exposed the false taste. The reign of King 
Charles II. (meritorious in no other respect) banished 



162 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

false taste out of England, and proscribed Puns, Quibbles, 
Acrostics, etc. Since that, false wit has renewed its 
attacks, and endeavoured to recover its lost empire, both 
in England and France, but without success : though, I 
must say, with more success in France than in England : 
Addison, Pope, and Swift having vigorously defended the 
rights of good sense ; which is more than can be said of 
their contemporary French authors ; who have of late had 
a great tendency to le faux brillant, ie rafinement, et 
Pentortillement. And Lord Roscommon would be more in 
the right now, than he was then, in saying, that 

" The English bullion of one sterling line, 
Drawn to French wire, would through whole pages shine. " 

Lose no time, my dear child, I conjure you, in forming 
your taste, your manners, your mind, your everything : you 
have but two years time to do it in ; for, whatever you are, 
to a certain degree, at twenty, you will be, more or less, all 
the rest of your life. May it be a long and a happy one ! 
Adieu. 



LETTER LII. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, February the 22nd, O. S. 1750. 

IF the Italian of your letter to Lady Chesterfield was all 
your own, I am very well satisfied with the progress which 
you have made in that language in so short a time ; accord- 
ing to that gradation, you will, in a very little time more, 
be master of it. Except at the French Embassador's, I 
believe you hear only Italian spoken : for the Italians speak 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 163 

very little French, and that little, generally, very ill. The 
French are even with them, and generally speak Italian as 
ill ; for I never knew a Frenchman in my life who could 
pronounce the Italian ce ri, or ge gt. Your desire of pleas- 
ing the Roman Ladies will of course give you, not only the 
desire, but the means, of speaking to them elegantly in 
their own language. The Princess Borghese, I am told, 
speaks French both ill and unwillingly ; and therefore you 
should make a merit to her of your application to her 
language. She is, by a kind of prescription (a longer than 
she would probably wish) at the head of the beau monde 
at Rome; and can, consequently, establish or destroy a 
young fellow's fashionable character. If she declares him 
amabile e leggiadro^ others will think him so, or, at least, 
those who do not, will not dare to say so. There are in 
every great town some such women, whose rank, beauty, 
and fortune have conspired to place them at the head of 
the fashion. They have generally been gallant, but within 
certain decent bounds. Their gallantries have taught, both 
them and their admirers, good breeding ; without which 
they could keep up no dignity; but would be vilified by 
those very gallantries which put them in vogue. It is with 
these women, as with Ministers and Favourites at Court; 
they decide upon fashion and characters, as these do on 
fortunes and preferments. Pay particular court, therefore, 
wherever you are, to these female sovereigns of the beau 
monde: their recommendation is a passport through all 
the realms of politeness. But then, remember that they 
require minute, officious attentions. You should, if 
possible, guess at and anticipate all their little fancies 
and inclinations ; make yourself familiarly and domestically 
useful to them, by offering yourself for all their little 
commissions, and assisting in doing the honours of their 



164 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

houses, and entering with seeming unction into all theii 
little grievances, bustles, and views ; for they are always 
busy. If you are once ben ficcato at the Palazzo Borghese, 
you will soon be in fashion at Rome ; and being in fashion, 
will soon fashion you ; for that is what you must now think 
of very seriously. 

I am sorry that there is no good dancing-master at 
Rome, to form your exterior air and carriage; which, I 
doubt, are not the genteelest in the world. But you may, 
and I hop 3 you will, in the meantime, observe the air and 
carriage of those who are reckoned to have the best, and 
form your own upon them. Ease, gracefulness, and 
dignity, compose the air and address of a Man of Fashion ; 
which is as unlike the affected attitudes and motions of a 
petit mditre, as it is to the awkward, negligent, clumsy, and 
slouching manner of a booby. 

I am extremely pleased with the account Mr. Harte has 
given me of the allotment of your time at Rome. Those 
five hours every morning, which you employ in serious 
studies with Mr. Harte, are laid out with great interest, and 
will make you rich all the rest of your life. I do not look 
upon the subsequent morning hours, which you pass with 
your Cicerone, to be ill disposed of; there is a kind of con- 
nection between them : and your evening diversions, in 
good company, are, in their way, as useful and necessary. 
This is the way for you to have both weight and lustre in 
the world ; and this is the object which I always had in 
view in your education. 

Adieu, my friend ! Go on and prosper. 

Mr. Grevenkop has just received Mr. Harte's letter of the 
19th, N. S. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 165 

LETTER LIIL 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, April the 26th, O. S. 1750. 

As your journey to Paris approaches, and as that period 
will, one -way or another, be of infinite consequence to you, 
my letters will henceforwards be principally calculated for 
that meridian. You will be left there to your own discre- 
tion, instead of Mr. Harte's ; and you will allow me, I am 
sure, to distrust a little the discretion of eighteen. You will 
find in the Academy a number of young fellows much less 
discreet than yourself. These will all be your acquaint- 
ances ; but look about you first and inquire into their 
respective characters, before you form any connections 
among them; and, cateris paribus^ single out those of the 
most considerable rank and family. Show them a dis- 
tinguishing attention ; by which means you will get into 
their respective houses, and keep the best company. All 
those French young fellows are excessively etourdis : be 
upon your guard against scrapes and quarrels : have no 
corporal pleasantries with them, no jeux de main, no 
coups de chambr&rc, which frequently bring on quarrels. 
Be as lively as they, if you please, but at the same time 
be a little wiser than they. As to letters, you will find 
most of them ignorant ; do not reproach them with that 
ignorance, nor make them feel your superiority ; it is not 
their fault they are all bred up for the army ; but, on the 
other hand, do not allow their ignorance and idleness to 
break in upon those morning hours which you may be able 
to allot to your serious studies. No breakfastings with 
them, which consume a great deal of time ; but tell them 
(not magisterially and sententiously) that you will read two 
or three hours in the morning, and that for the rest of the 



166 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

day you are very much at their service. Though, by the 
way, I hope you will keep wiser company in the evenings. 

I must insist upon your never going to what is called tht 
English coffee-house at Paris, which is the resort of all the 
scrub English, and also of the fugitive and attainted Scotch 
and Irish : party quarrels and drunken squabbles are very 
frequent there ; and I do not know a more degrading place 
in all Paris. Coffee-houses and taverns are by no means 
creditable at Paris. Be cautiously upon your guard against 
the infinite number of fine-dressed and fine-spoken 
chevaliers ^Industrie and aventuriers, which swarm at Paris ; 
and keep everybody civilly at arm's length, of whose real 
character or rank you are not previously informed. Mon- 
sieur le Comte or Monsieur le Chevalier in a handsome 
laced coat, et trts bien mis, accosts you at the play, or some 
other public place; he conceives at first sight an infinite 
regard for you, he sees that you are a stranger of the first 
distinction, he offers you his services, and wishes nothing 
more ardently than to contribute, as far as may be in his 
little power, to procure you les agremens de Paris. He is 
acquainted with some ladies of condition, qui preferent une 
petite societe agreable, et des petits soupers aimables d'Jionnetes 
gens, au tumulte et & la dissipation de Paris ; and he will 
with the greatest pleasure imaginable have the honour of 
introducing you to these ladies 01 quality. Well, if you 
were to accept of this kind offer, and go with him, you 

would find au troisieme a handsome, painted, and p d 

strumpet, in a tarnished silver or gold second-hand robe ; 
playing a sham party at cards for livres, with three or four 
sharpers well dressed enough, and dignified by the titles of 
Marquis, Comte, and Chevalier. The lady receives you m 
the most polite and gracious manner, and with all those 
compliments de routine which every French woman has 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 167 

equally. Though she loves retirement and shuns It grand 
monde, yet she confesses herself obliged to the Marquis for 
having procured for her so inestimable, so accomplished, an 
acquaintance as yourself; but her concern is how to amuse 
you, for she never suffers play at her house above a livre ; 
if you can amuse yourself with that low play till supper, a 
la bonne heure. Accordingly you sit down to that little 
play, at which the good company takes care tha-t you shall 
win fifteen or sixteen livres, which gives them an oppor- 
tunity of celebrating both your good luck and your good 
play. Supper comes up, and a good one it is, upon the 
strength of your being to pay for it. La Marquise en fait 
les honneurs au mieux, talks sentiments, moeurs, et morale ; 
interlarded with enjouement, and accompanied with some 
oblique ogles, which bid you not despair in time. After 
supper, pharaon, lansquenet, or quinze happen accidently to 
be mentioned: the Chevalier proposes playing at one of 
them for half-an-hour ; the Marquise exclaims against it, 
and vows she will not suffer it, but is at last prevailed upon 
by being assured que ce ne sera que pour des riens. Then 
the wished-for moment is come, the operation begins : you 
are cheated, at best, of all the money in your pocket, and if 
you stay late, very probably robbed of your watch and snuff- 
box, possibly murdered for greater security. This, I can 
assure you, is not an exaggerated but a literal description 
of what happens every day to some raw and inexperienced 
stranger at Paris. Remember to receive all these civil 
gentlemen, who take such a fancy to you at first sight, 
very coldly, and take care always to be previously engaged, 
whatever party they propose to you. You may happen 
sometimes in very great and good companies to meet with 
some dexterous gentlemen, who may be very desirous, and 
also very sure, to win your money, if they can but engage 



168 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

you to play with them. Therefore lay it down as an 
invariable rule never to play with men, but only with 
women of fashion, at low play, or with women and men 
mixed. But at the same time, whenever you are asked to 
play deeper than you would, do not refuse it gravely and 
sententiously, alleging the folly of staking what would be 
very inconvenient to one to lose, against what one does not 
want to win ; but parry those invitations ludicrously, et en 
badinant. Say that if you were sure to lose, you might 
possibly play, but that as you may as well win, you dread 
tembarras des richesses ever since you have seen what an 
incumbrance they were to poor Harlequin, and that there- 
fore you are determined never to venture the winning above 
two Louis a day : this sort of light trifling way of declining 
invitations to vice and folly, is more becoming your age, 
and at the same time more effectual, than grave philo- 
sophical refusals. A young fellow who seems to have no 
will of his own, and who does everything that is asked of 
him, is called a very good-natured, but at the same time is 
thought a very silly, young fellow. Act wisely, upon solid 
principles, and from true motives, but keep them to your- 
self, and never talk sententiously. When you are invited 
to drink, say you wish you could, but that so little makes 
you both drunk and sick, que lejeu ne vaut pas la chandelle. 
Pray show great attention, and make your court to 
Monsieur de la Gueriniere \ he is well with Prince Charles, 
and many people of the first distinction at Paris ; his 
commendations will raise your character there, not to 
mention that his favour will be of use to you in the 
Academy itself. For the reasons which I mentioned to you 
in my last, I would have you be interne in the Academy for 
the first six months ; but after that I promise you that you 
shall have lodgings of your own dans un hotel garni, if in 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 169 

the meantime I hear well of you, and that you frequent, 
and are esteemed in, the best French companies. You 
want nothing now, thank God, but exterior advantages, that 
last polish that tournure du monde^ and those graces, which 
are so necessary to adorn and give efficacy to the most solid 
merit. They are only to be acquired in the best companies, 
and better in the best French companies than in any other. 
You will not want opportunities, for I shall send you letters 
that will establish you in the most distinguished companies, 
not only of the beau monde, but of the beaux esprits too. 
Dedicate therefore, I beg of you, that whole year to your 
own advantage and final improvement, and do not be 
diverted from those objects by idle dissipations, low 
seduction, or bad example. After that year, do whatever 
you please: I will interfere no longer in your conduct. 
For I am sure both you and I shall be safe then. Adieu. 



LETTER LIV. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, April the 3oth, O. S. 1750. 

MR. HARTE, who in all his letters gives you some dash 
of panegyric, told me in his last a thing that pleases me 
extremely; which was, that at Rome you had constantly 
preferred the established Italian assemblies to the English 
conventicles set up against them by dissenting English 
ladies. That shows sense, and that you know what you are 
sent abroad for. It is of much more consequence to know 
the Mores multorum hominum than the Urbes. Pray 
continue this judicious conduct wherever you go, especially 
at Paris, where, instead of thirty, you will find above three 



i 7 o LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

hundred English, herding together, and conversing with no 
one French body. 

The life of les Milords Anglois is regularly, or if you will 
irregularly, this. As soon as they rise, which is very late, 
they breakfast together, to the utter loss of two good 
morning hours. Then they go by coachfulls to the Palais, 
the Invalides, and Notre-Dame ; from thence to the English 
coffee-house, where they make up their tavern party for 
dinner. From dinner, where they drink quick, they adjourn 
in clusters to the play, where they crowd up the stage, 
drest up in very fine clothes, very ill made by a Scotch or 
Irish tailor. From the play to the tavern again, where they 
get very drunk, and where they either quarrel among them- 
selves, or sally forth, commit some riot in the streets, and 
are taken up by the watch. Those who do not speak 
French before they go are sure to learn none there. Their 
tender vows are addressed to their Irish laundress, unless 
by chance some itinerant English woman, eloped from her 
husband, or her creditors, defrauds her of them. Thus 
they return home, more petulant, but not more informed, 
than when they left it; and show, as they think, their 
improvement, by affectedly both speaking and dressing in 
broken French. 

" Hunc tu Romanc caveto." 

Connect yourself, while you are in France, entirely with 
the French ; improve yourself with the old, divert yourself 
with the young ; conform cheerfully to their customs, even 
to their little follies, but not to their vices. Do not how- 
ever remonstrate or preach against them, for remonstrances 
do not suit with your age. In French companies in general 
you will not find much learning, therefore take care not to 
brandish yours in their faces. People hate those who make 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 171 

them feel their own inferiority. Conceal all your learning 
carefully, and reserve it for the company of les Gens 
d'Eglise, or les Gens de Robe ; and even then let them 
rather extort it from you, than find you over-willing to draw 
it. You are then thought, from that seeming unwillingness, 
to have still more knowledge than it may be you really 
have, and with the additional merit of modesty into the 
bargain. A man who talks of, or even hints at, his bonnes 
fortunes, is seldom believed, or if believed, much blamed : 
whereas a man who conceals with care is often supposed to 
have more than he has, and his reputation of discretion gets 
him others. It is just so with a man of learning; if he 
affects to show it, it is questioned, and he is reckoned only 
superficial ; but if afterwards it appears that he really has it, 
he is pronounced a pedant. Real merit of any kind, ubi 
est non potest diu celari ; it will be discovered, and nothing 
can depreciate it but a man's exhibiting it himself. It may 
not always be rewarded as it ought ; but it will always be 
known. You will in general find the women of the beau 
monde at Paris more instructed than the men, who are bred 
up singly for the army, and thrown into it at twelve or 
thirteen years old ; but then that sort of education, which 
makes them ignorant of books, gives them a great 
knowledge of the world, an easy address, and polite 
manners. 

Fashion is more tyrannical at Paris than in any other 
place in the world ; it governs even more absolutely than 
their King, which is saying a great deal. The least revolt 
against it is punished by proscription. You must observe 
and conform to all the minuties of it, if you will be in 
fashion there yourself ; and if you are not in fashion, you 
are nobody. Get therefore, at all events, into the company 
of those men and women qui donnent le ton; and though at 



i 7 2 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

first you should be admitted upon that shining theatre only 
as a persona muta, persist, persevere, and you will soon 
have a part given you. Take great care never to tell in one 
company what you see or hear in another, much less to 
divert the present company at the expense of the last ; but 
let discretion and secrecy be known parts of your character. 
They will carry you much farther, and much safer, than 
more shining talents. Be upon your guard against quarrels 
at Paris ; honour is extremely nice there, though the 
asserting of it is exceedingly penal. Therefore point de 
mauvaises plaisanteries^ point de jeux de main, et point de 
raillerie piquante. 

Paris is the place in the world where, if you please, you 
may the best unite the utile and the duke. Even your 
pleasures will be your improvements, if you take them with 
the people of the place, and in high life. From what you 
have hitherto done everywhere else, I have just reason to 
believe that you will do everything you ought at Paris. 
Remember that it is your decisive moment ; whatever you 
do there will be known to thousands here, and your 
character there, whatever it is, will get before you hither. 
You will meet with it at London. May you and I both 
have reason to rejoice at that meeting ! Adieu. 



LETTER LV. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, June the 5th, O. S. 1750. 

I HAVE received your picture, which I have long waited 
for with impatience; I wanted to see your countenance, 
from whence I am very apt, as I believe most people 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 173 

are, to form some general opinion of the mind. If the 
painter has taken you as well as he has done Mr. Harte 
(for his picture is by far the most like I ever saw in my 
life), I draw good conclusions from your countenance, 
which has both spirit and finesse in it. In bulk you are 
pretty well increased since I saw you ; if your height is 
not increased in proportion, I desire that you will make 
haste to complete it. Seriously, I believe that your 
exercises at Paris will make you shoot up to a good size ; 
your legs, by all accounts, seem to promise it Dancing 
excepted, the wholesome part is the best part of those 
academical exercises. Us degraissent leur homme. A 
propos of exercises; I have prepared everything for your 
reception at Monsieur de la Gue'riniere's, and your room, 
etc., will be ready at your arrival. I am sure you must 
be sensible how much better it will be for you to be 
interne in the Academy, for the first six or seven months 
at least, than to be en hotel garni^ at some distance from 
it, and obliged to go to it every morning, let the weather 
be what it will, not to mention the loss of time too; 
besides, by living and boarding in the Academy, you will 
make an acquaintance with half the young fellows of 
fashion at Paris; and in a very little while be looked 
upon as one of them in all French companies ; an advan- 
tage that has never yet happened to any one Englishman 
that I have known. I am sure you do not suppose that 
the difference of the expense, which is but a trifle, has 
any weight with me in this resolution. You have the 
French language so perfectly, and you will acquire the 
French tournure so soon, that I do not know anybody 
likely to pass his time so well at Paris as yourself. Our 
young countrymen have generally too little French, and 
too bad address, either to present themselves, or be well 

14 



174 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

received in the best French companies ; and, as a proof 
of it, there is no one instance of an Englishman's having 
ever been suspected of a gallantry with a French woman 
of condition, though every French woman of condition 
is more than suspected of having a gallantry. But they 
take up with the disgraceful and dangerous commerce of 
prostitutes, actresses, dancing women, and that sort of 
trash ; though, if they had common address, better achieve- 
ments would be extremely easy. Un a?-rangement, which 
is in plain English a gallantry, is, at Paris, as necessary 
a part of a woman of fashion's establishment, as her 
house, table, coach, etc. A young fellow must therefore be 
a very awkward one, to be reduced to, or of a very singular 
taste, to prefer drabs and danger to a commerce (in the 
course of the world not disgraceful) with a woman of 
health, education, and rank. Nothing sinks a young man 
into low company, both of men and women, so surely as 
timidity, and diffidence of himself. If he thinks that 
he shall not, he may depend upon it he will not, please. 
But with proper endeavours to please, and a degree of 
persuasion that he shall, it is almost certain that he will. 
How many people does one meet with everywhere, who 
with very moderate parts, and very little knowledge, push 
themselves pretty far, singly by being sanguine, enter- 
prising, and persevering ? They will take no denial from 
man or woman; difficulties do not discourage them; 
repulsed twice or thrice, they rally, they charge again, 
and nine times in ten prevail at last. The same means 
will much sooner, and more certainly, attain the same 
ends, with your parts and knowledge. You have a fund 
to be sanguine upon, and good forces to rally. In business 
(talents supposed) nothing is more effectual, or successful, 
than a good, though concealed, opinion of one's self, a 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 175 

firm resolution, and an unwearied perseverance. None 
but madmen attempt impossibilities ; and whatever is 
possible is one way or another to be brought about. If 
one method fails, try another, and suit your methods to 
the characters you have to do with. At the treaty of the 
Pyrenees, which Cardinal Mazarin and Don Louis % de 
Haro concluded, dans I' Isle des Faisans ; the latter carried 
some very important points by his constant and cool 
perseverance. 

The Cardinal had all the Italian vivacity and impatience ; 
Don Louis all the Spanish phlegm and tenaciousness. 
The point which the Cardinal had most at heart was, 
to hinder the re-establishment of the Prince of Conde', 
his implacable enemy; but he was in haste to conclude, 
and impatient to return to Court, where absence is always 
dangerous. Don Louis observed this, and never failed 
at every conference to bring the affair of the Prince of 
Condd upon the tapis. The Cardinal for some time 
refused even to treat upon it ; Don Louis, with the same 
sens froid^ as constantly persisted, till he at last prevailed, 
contrary to the intentions and the interest both of the 
Cardinal and of his Court. Sense must distinguish between 
what is impossible and what is only difficult, and spirit 
and perseverance will get the better of the latter. Every 
man is to be had one way or another, and every woman 
almost any way. I must not omit one thing, which is 
previously necessary to this, and indeed to everything 
else ; which is attention, a flexibility of attention ; never 
to be wholly engrossed by any past or future object, but 
instantly directed to the present one, be it what it will. 
An absent man can make but few observations ; and those 
will be disjointed and imperfect ones, as half the circum- 
stances must necessarily escape him. He can pursue 



1 76 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

nothing steadily, because his absences make him lose 
his way. They are very disagreeable, and hardly to be 
tolerated in old age ; but in youth they cannot be forgiven. 
If you find that you have the least tendency to them, 
pray watch yourself very carefully, and you may prevent 
them now; but if you let them grow into a habit, you 
will find it very difficult to cure them hereafter; and a 
vorse distemper I do not know. 

I heard with great satisfaction the other day, from one who 
has been lately at Rome, that nobody was better received 
in the best companies than yourself. The same thing, 
I dare say, will happen to you at Paris; where they are 
particularly kind to all strangers, who will be civil to 
them, and show a desire of pleasing. But they must be 
flattered a little, not only by words, but by a seeming 
preference given to their country, their manners, and their 
customs; which is but a very small price to pay for a 
very good reception. Were I in Africa, I would pay it 
to a negro for his good-will. Adieu. 



LETTER LVI. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, July the gth, O. S. 1750. 

I SHOULD not deserve that appellation in return from 
you, if I did not freely and explicitly inform you of every 
corrigible defect, which I may either hear of, suspect, or at 
any time discover in you. Those who in the common 
course of the world will call themselves your friends, or 
whom, according to the common notions of friendship, 
you may possibly think such, will never tell you of your 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 177 

faults, still less of your weaknesses. But on the contrary, 
more desirous to make you their friend than to prove 
themselves yours, they will flatter both, and, in truth, not 
be sorry for either. Interiorly, most people enjoy the 
inferiority of their best friends. The useful and essential 
part of friendship to you is reserved singly for Mr. Harte 
and myself; our relations to you stand pure, and un- 
suspected of all private views. In whatever we say to you, 
we can have no interest but yours. We can have no 
competition, no jealousy, no secret envy or malignity. 
We are therefore authorised to represent, advise, and 
remonstrate; and your reason must tell you that you ought 
to attend to and believe us. 

I am credibly informed that there is still a considerable 
hitch or hobble in your enunciation ; and that when you 
speak fast, you sometimes speak unintelligibly. I have 
formerly and frequently laid my thoughts before you so 
fully upon this subject, that I can say nothing new upon 
it now. I must therefore only repeat, that your whole 
depends upon it. Your trade is to speak well, both in 
public and in private. The manner of your speaking is 
full as important as the matter, as more people have ears to 
be tickled than understandings to judge. Be your pro- 
ductions ever so good, they will be of no use, if you stifle 
and strangle them in their birth. The best compositions of 
Corelli, if ill executed, and played out of tune, instead of 
touching, as they do when well performed, would only 
excite the indignation of the hearers, when murdered by an 
unskilful performer. But to murder your own productions, 
and that coram populo, is a Medean cruelty ', which Horace 
absolutely forbids. Remember of what importance Demos- 
thenes, and one of the Gracchi, thought enunciation ; read 
what stress Cicero and Quintilian lay upon it; even the 



i 7 8 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

herb-women at Athens were correct judges of it. Oratory 
with all its graces, that of enunciation in particular, is full 
as necessary in our government, as it ever was in Greece or 
Rome. No man can make a fortune or a figure in this 
country, without speaking, and speaking well, in public. It 
you will persuade, you must first please ; and if you will 
please, you must tune your voice to harmony; you must 
articulate every syllable distinctly ; your emphasis and 
cadences must be strongly and properly marked ; and the 
whole together must be graceful and engaging ; if you do 
not speak in that manner, you had much better not speak 
at all. All the learning you have, or ever can have, is not 
worth one groat without it. It may be a comfort and an 
amusement to you in your closet, but can be of no use to 
you in the world. Let me conjure you therefore to make 
this your only object, till you have absolutely conquered it, 
for that is in your power ; think of nothing else, read and 
speak for nothing else. Read aloud, though alone, and 
read articulately and distinctly, as if you were reading in 
public, and on the most important occasion. Recite pieces 
of eloquence, declaim scenes of tragedies, to Mr. Jrlarte, as 
if he were a numerous audience. If there is any particular 
consonant which you have a difficulty in articulating, as I 
think you had with the R, utter it millions and millions of 
times, till you have uttered it right. Never speak quick, 
till you have first learned to speak well. In short, lay aside 
every book and every thought, that does not directly tend 
to this great object, absolutely decisive of your future 
fortune and figure. 

The next thing necessary in your destination is, writing 
correctly, elegantly, and in a good hand too; in which 
three particulars, I am sorry to tell you that you hitherto 
fail. Your hand-writing is a very bad one, and would make 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 179 

a scurvy figure in a-n office-book of letters, or even in a 
lady's pocket-book. But that fault is easily cured by care, 
since every man who has the use of his eyes and of his 
right hand can write whatever hand he pleases. As to the 
correctness and elegancy of your writing, attention to 
grammar does the one, and to the best authors the other. 
In your letter to me of the 2yth June, N. S., you omitted 
the date of the place, so that I only conjectured from the 
contents that you were at Rome. 

Thus I have, with the truth and freedom of the tenderest 
affection, told you all your defects, at least all that I know 
or have heard of. Thank God they are all very curable, 
they must be cured, and I am sure you will cure them. 
That once done, nothing remains for you to acquire, or for 
me to wish you, but the turn, the manners, the address, and 
the graces of the polite world ; which experience, observation, 
and good company will insensibly give you. Few people at 
your age have read, seen, and known so much as you have, 
and consequently few are so near as yourself to what I call 
perfection, by which I only mean being very near as well as 
the best. Far, therefore, from being discouraged by what 
you still want, what you already have should encourage you 
to attempt, and convince you that by attempting you will 
inevitably obtain it. The difficulties which you have sur- 
mounted were much greater than any you have now to 
encounter. Till very lately your way has been only through 
thorns and briers ; the few that now remain are mixed with 
roses. Pleasure is now the principal remaining part of your 
education. It will soften and polish your manners ; it will 
make you pursue and at last overtake the graces. Pleasure 
is necessarily reciprocal ; no one feels who does not at the 



i8o LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

same time give it. To be pleased, one must please. What 
pleases you in others, will in general please them in you. 
Paris is indisputably the seat of the graces ; they will even 
court you, if you are not too coy. Frequent and observe 
the best companies there, and you will soon be naturalised 
among them ; you will soon find how particularly attentive 
they are to the correctness and elegancy of their language, 
and to the graces of their enunciation ; they would even 
call the understanding of a man in question, who should 
neglect or not know the infinite advantages arising from 
them. Narrer, reciter, dedamer Men, are serious studies 
among them, and well deserve to be so everywhere. The 
conversations even among the women frequently turn upon 
the elegancies, and minutest delicacies, of the French 
language. An enjouement, a gallant turn prevails in all 
their companies, to women, with whom they neither are, 
nor pretend to be, in love ; but should you (as may very 
possibly happen) fall really in love there with some woman 
of fashion and sense (for I do not suppose you capable of 
falling in love with a strumpet), and that your rival, without 
half your parts or knowledge, should get the better of you, 
merely by dint of manners, enjouement, badinage, etc., how 
would you regret not having sufficiently attended to these 
accomplishments, which you despised a's superficial and 
trifling, but which you would then find of real consequence 
in the course of the world ! And men, as well as women, 
are taken by these external graces. Shut up your books, 
then, now as a business, and open them only as a pleasure : 
but let the great book of the world be your serious study ; 
read it over and over, get it by heart, adopt its style, and 
make it youi own. 

When I cast up your account as it now stands, I rejoice 
to see the balance so much in your favour ; and that the 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 181 

items per contra are so few, and of such a nature that they 
may be very easily cancelled. By way of debtor and 
creditor, it stands thus : 

Creditor. By French. Debtor. To English. 

German. Enunciation. 

Italian. Manners. 

Latin. 

Greek. 

Logic. 

Ethics. 

History. 
fNaturae. 
Jus-j Gentium. 
[Publicum. 

This, my dear friend, is a very true account, and a very 
encouraging one for you. A man who owes so little, can 
clear it off in a very little time, and if he is a prudent man, 
will ; whereas a man who by long negligence owes a great 
deal, despairs of ever being able to pay ; and therefore never 
looks into his accounts at all 

When you go to Genoa, pray observe carefully all the 
environs of it, and view them with somebody who can tell 
you all the situations and operations of the Austrian army 
during that famous siege, if it deserves to be called one ; for 
in reality the town never was besieged, nor had the Austrians 
any one thing necessary for a siege. If Marquis Centurioni, 
who was last winter in England, should happen to be there, 
go to him with my compliments, and he will show you all 
imaginable civilities. 

I could have sent you some letters to Florence, but that I 
knew Mr. Mann would be of more use to you than all of 



i8 2 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

them. Pray make hkn my compliments. Cultivate your 
Italian while you are at Florence ; where it is spoken in its 
utmost purity, but ill pronounced. 

Pray save me the seed of some of the best melons you 
eat, and put it up dry in paper. You need not send it me ; 
but Mr. Harte will bring it in his pocket when he comes 
over. I should likewise be glad of some cuttings of the 
best figs, especially // Fico gentile, and the Malthese ; but 
as this is not the season for them, Mr. Mann will, I dare 
say, undertake that commission, and send them to me at the 
proper time by Leghorn. Adieu. Endeavour to please 
others, and divert yourself as much as ever you can, en 
honntte et galant Homme, 

P. S. I send you the enclosed to deliver to Lord Roch- 
ford, upon your arrival at Turin. 



LETTER LVIL 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, November the I2th, O. S. 1750. 

You will possibly think that this letter turns upon 
strange, little, trifling objects ; and you will think right, if 
you consider them separately ; but if you take them aggre- 
gately you will be convinced that as parts, which conspire 
to form that whole, called the exterior of a man of fashion, 
they are of importance. I shall not dwell now upon those 
personal graces, that liberal air, and that engaging address, 
which I have so often recommended to you, but descend 
still lower, to your dress, cleanliness, and cars of your 
person. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 183 

When you come to Paris you must take care to be 
extremely well dressed, that is, as the fashionable people 
are; this does by no means consist in the finery, but in 
the taste, fitness, and manner of wearing your clothes: a 
fine suit ill made, and slatternly or stiffly worn, far from 
adorning, only exposes the awkwardness of the wearer. 
Get the best French tailor to make your clothes, whatever 
they are, in the fashion, and to fit you : and then wear 
them, button them, or unbutton them, as the genteelest 
people you see do. Let your man learn of the best/riseur 
to do your hair well, for that is a very material part of your 
dress. Take care to have your stockings well gartered up, 
and your shoes well buckled; for nothing gives a more 
slovenly air to a man than ill-dressed legs. In your person 
you must be accurately clean ; and your teeth, hands, and 
nails should be superlatively so : a dirty mouth has real ill 
consequences to the owner, for it infallibly causes the 
decay, as well as the intolerable pain, of the teeth ; and it is 
very offensive to his acquaintance, for it will most inevitably 
stink. I insist, therefore, that you wash your teeth the first 
thing you do every morning, with a soft sponge and warm 
water, for four or five minutes ; and then wash your mouth 
five or six times. Mouton, whom I desire you will send for 
upon your ai rival at Paris, will give you an opiate, and 
a liquor to be used sometimes. Nothing looks more 
ordinary, vulgar, ind illiberal, than dirty hands, and ugly, 
uneven, and ragged nails : I do not suspect you of that 
shocking, awkward trick, of biting yours ; but that is not 
enough; you must keep the ends of them smooth and 
clean, not tipped with black, as the ordinary people's always 
are. The ends of your nails should be small segments of 
circles, which, by a very little care in the cutting, they are 
very easily brought to; every time that you wipe your 



i8 4 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

hands, rub the skin round your nails backwards, that it may 
not grow up, and shorten your nails too much. The clean- 
liness of the rest of your person, which, by the way, will 
conduce greatly to your health, I refer from time to time 
to the bagnio. My mentioning these particulars arises (I 
freely own) from some suspicion that the hints are not 
unnecessary; for when you were a schoolboy, you were 
slovenly and dirty, above your fellows. I must add 
another caution, which is, that upon no account whatever 
you put your fingers, as too many people are apt to do, in 
your nose or ears. It is the most shocking, nasty, vulgar 
rudeness that can be offered to company; it disgusts one, 
it turns one's stomach; and, for my own part, I would 
much rather know that a man's finger were actually in his 
breech, than see them in his nose. Wash your ears well 
every morning, and blow your nose in your handkerchief 
whenever you have occasion : but, by the way, without 
looking at it afterwards. There should be in the least as 
well as in the greatest parts of a gentleman, les mantires 
nobles. Sense will teach you some, observation others : 
attend carefully to the manners, the diction, the motions, of 
people of the first fashion, and form your own upon them. 
On the other hand, observe a little those of the vulgar, 
in order to avoid them : for though the things which they 
say or do may be the same, the manner is always totally 
different: and in that, and nothing else, consists the 
characteristic of a man of fashion. The lowest peasant 
speaks, moves, dresses, eats, and drinks, as much as a man 
of the first fashion, but does them all quite differently ; so 
that by doing and saying most things in a manner opposite 
to that of the vulgar, you have a great chance of doing and 
saying them right. There are gradations in awkwardness 
and vulgarism, as there are in everything else. Les manures 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 185 

de Robe^ though not quite right, are still better than les 
manieres Bourgeoises; and these, though bad, are still 
better than les manieres de Campagne. But the language, 
the air, the dress, and the manners, of the Court, are the 
only true standard des manieres nobles, et d'un honnete 
homme. Ex pede Herculem is an old and true saying, and 
very applicable to our present subject ; for a man of parts, 
who has been bred at Courts, and used to keep the best 
company, will distinguish himself, and is to be known from 
the vulgar, by every word, attitude, gesture, and even look. 
I cannot leave these seeming minuties, without repeating to 
you the necessity of your carving well ; which is an article, 
little as it is, that is useful twice every day of one's life ; 
and the doing it ill is very troublesome to one's self, and 
very disagreeable, often ridiculous, to others. 

Having said all this, I cannot help reflecting what a 
formal dull fellow, or a cloistered pedant, would say, if they 
were to see this letter : they would look upon it with the 
utmost contempt, and say, that surely a father might find 
much better topics for advice to a son. I would admit it if 
I had given you, or that you were capable of receiving, no 
better ; but if sufficient pains had been taken to form your 
heart and improve your mind, and, as I hope, not without 
success, I will tell tbose solid Gentlemen that all these 
trifling things, as they think them, collectively form that 
pleasing je ne sais quoi, that ensemble^ which they are utter 
strangers to both in themselves and others. The word 
aimable is not known in their language, or the thing in their 
manners. Great usage of the world, great attention, and a 
great desire of pleasing, can alone give it ; and it is no 
trifle. It is from old people's looking upon these things as 
trifles, or not thinking of them at all, that so many young 
people are so awkward, and so ill bred. Their parents, 



r 86 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

often careless and unmindful of them, give them only the 
common run of education, as school, university, and then 
travelling ; without examining, and very often without being 
able to judge if they did examine, what progress they make 
in any one of these stages. Then they carelessly comfort 
themselves, and say that their sons will do like other 
people's sons ; and so they do, that is, commonly very ill. 
They correct none of the childish, nasty tricks, which they 
get at school ; nor the illiberal manners which they contract 
at the university; nor the frivolous and superficial pertness 
which is commonly all that they acquire by their travels. 
As they do not tell them of these things, nobody else can ; 
so they go on in the practice of them, without ever hearing 
or knowing that they are unbecoming, indecent, and 
shocking. For, as I have often formerly observed to you, 
nobody but a father can take the liberty to reprove a 
young fellow grown up for those kind of inaccuracies and 
improprieties of behaviour. The most intimate friendship, 
unassisted by the paternal superiority, will not authorise it. 
I may truly say, therefore, that you are happy in having me 
for a sincere, friendly, and quick-sighted monitor. Nothing 
will escape me; I shall pry for your defects, in order to 
correct them, as curiously as I shall seek for your perfec- 
tions, in order to applaud and reward them ; with this 
difference only, that I shall publicly mention the latter, and 
never hint at the former, but in a letter to, or a tete-h-ttte 
with, you. I will never put you out of countenance before 
company; and I hope you will never give me reason to 
be out of countenance for you, as any one of the above- 
mentioned defects would make me. Prator non curat de 
mim'mis, was a maxim in the Roman law ; for causes only 
of a certain value were tried by him; but there were 
inferior jurisdictions, that took cognizance of the smallest 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 187 

Now I shall try you, not only as Praetor in the greatest, but 
as Censor in lesser, and as the lowest magistrate in the 
least, cases. 

I have this moment received Mr. Harte's letter of the ist 
November, new style ; by which I am very glad to find that 
he thinks of moving towards Paris the end of this month, 
which looks as if his leg were better; besides, in my 
opinion, you both of you only lose time at Montpellier ; 
he would find better advice, and you better company, at 
Paris. In the meantime, I hope you go into the best 
company there is at Montpellier, and there always is some 
at the Intendant's or the Commandant's. You will have 
had full time to have learned, les petites chansons Langue- 
doriennes, which are exceeding pretty ones, both words and 
tunes. I remember, when I was in those parts, I was 
surprised at the difference which I found between the 
people on one side and those on the other side of the 
Rhone. The Provenceaux were, in general, surly, ill-bred, 
ugly, and swarthy : the Languedocians the very reverse ; 
a cheerful, well-bred, handsome people. Adieu ! Yours 
most affectionately. 

P.S. Upon reflection, I direct this letter to Paris ; I 
think you must have left Montpellier before^t could arrive 
there. 



LETTER LVIII. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, January the 3rd, O. S. 1751. 

BY your letter of the 5th, N. S., I find that your debut 
at Paris has been a good one ; you are entered into good 



i88 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

company, and I dare say you will not sink into bad. 
Frequent the houses where you have been once invited, 
and have none of that shyness which makes most of your 
countrymen strangers, where they might be intimate and 
domestic if they pleased. Wherever you have a general 
invitation to sup when you please, profit of it with decency, 
and go every now and then. Lord Albemarle will, I am 
sure, be extremely kind to you ; but his house is only a 
dinner house, and, as I am informed, frequented by no 
French people. Should he happen to employ you in his 
bureau, which I much doubt, you must write a better hand 
than your common one, or you will get no great credit by 
your manuscripts ; for your hand is at present an illiberal 
one, it is neither a hand of business, nor of a gentleman ; 
but the hand of a school-boy writing his exercise, which he 
hopes will never be read. 

Madame de Monconseil gives me a favourable account of 
you, and so do Marquis de Matignon, and Madame du 
Boccage ; they all say that you desire to please, and con- 
sequently promise me that you will : and they judge right ; 
for whoever really desires to please, and has (as you now 
have) the means of learning how, certainly will please : and 
that is the great point of life ; it makes all other things easy. 
Whenever you are with Madame de Monconseil, Madame 
du Boccage, or other women of fashion, with whom you 
are tolerably free, say frankly and naturally, Je riai point 
d'usage du monde, j'y suis encore bien neuf, je souhaiterois 
ardemment de plaire, mats je ne sais gulres comment 
m^y prendre ; ayez la bonte, Madame, de me faire part de 
votre secret de plaire a tout le monde. J'enferai ma 'fortune, 
et il vous en restera pourtant toujours, plus qtfil ne vous en 
faut. When, in consequence of this request, they shall tell 
you of any little error, awkwardness, or impropriety, you 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 189 

should not only feel, but express, the warmest acknowledg- 
ment. Though nature should suffer, and she will at first 
hearing them, tell them, Que la critique la phis severe est, 
a votre egard, la preuve la plus marquee de leur amitie. 
Madame du Boccage tells me particularly to inform you, 
Qu'il me fera toujours plaisir et honneur de me venir voir ; 
il est vrai qu y a son age le plaisir de causer est froid, mats je 
tacherai de lui faire faire connoissance avec des jeunes 
gens, etc. Make use of this invitation, and as you live in 
a manner next door to her, step in and out there frequently. 
Monsieur du Boccage will go with you, he tells me, with 
great pleasure, to the plays, and point out to you whatever 
deserves your knowing there. This is worth your accept- 
ance too, he has a very good taste. I have not yet heard 
from Lady Hervey upon your subject, but as you inform 
me that you have already supped with her once, I look 
upon you as adopted by her : consult her in all your little 
matters ; tell her any difficulties that may occur to you ; 
ask her what you should do or say in such or such cases ; 
she has Vusage du monde en perfection, and will help you to 
acquire it. Madame de Berkenrode est paitrie de graces, 
and your quotation is very applicable to her. You may be 
there, I dare say, as often as you please, and I would advise 
you to sup there once a week. 

You say, very justly, that as Mr. Harte is leaving you, 
you shall want advice more than ever ; you shall never 
want mine ; and as you have already had so much of it, I 
must rather repeat, than add to what I have already given 
you : but that I will do, and add to it occasionally, as 
circumstances may require. 

At present I shall only remind you of your two great 
objects, which you should always attend to : they are 
Parliament and Foreign affairs. With regard to the former, 



1 9 o LORD CHESTERFIELD f S 

you can do nothing, while abroad, but attend carefully to 
the purity, correctness, and elegancy of your diction, the 
clearness and gracefulness of your utterance, in whatever 
language you speak. As for the parliamentary knowledge, 
I will take care of that, when you come home. With 
regard to foreign affairs, everything you do abroad may 
and ought to tend that way. Your reading should be 
chiefly historical; I do not mean of remote, dark, and 
fabulous history, still less of jimcrack natural history of 
fossils, minerals, plants, etc., but I mean the useful, 
political, and constitutional history of Europe for these 
last three centuries and a half. The other thing necessary 
for your foreign object, and not less necessary than either 
ancient or modern knowledge, is a great knowledge of the 
world, manners, politeness, address, and le ton de la bonne 
compagnie. In that view, keeping a great deal of good 
company is the principal point to which you are now to 
attend. It seems ridiculous to tell you, but it is most 
certainly true, that your dancing-master is at this time the 
man in all Europe of the greatest importance to you. You 
must dance well, in order to sit, stand, and walk well ; and 
you must do all these well, in order to please. What with 
your exercises, some reading, and a great deal of company, 
your day is, I confess, extremely taken up; but the day, 
if well employed, is long enough for everything ; and I 
am sure you will not slattern away one moment of it in 
inaction. At your age people have strong and active 
spirits, alacrity and vivacity in all they do ; are impigri, 
indefatigable, and quick. The difference is, that a young 
fellow of parts exerts all those happy dispositions in the 
pursuit of proper objects ; endeavours to excel in the solid 
and in the showish parts of life : whereas a silly puppy or a 
dull rogue throws away all his youth and spirits upon trifles 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 191 

when he is serious ; or upon disgraceful vices, while he 
aims at pleasures. This, I am sure, will not be your case ; 
your good sense and your good conduct hitherto are your 
guarantees with me for the future. Continue only at Paris 
as you have begun, and your stay there will make you, what 
I have always wished you to be, as near perfection as our 
nature permits. 

Adieu, my dear ; remember to write to me once a week, 
not as to a father, but without reserve as to a friend. 



LETTER LIX. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, Jan. the 28th, O. S. 1751. 

A BILL for ninety pounds sterling was brought me the 
other day, said to be drawn upon me by you ; I scrupled 
paying it at first, not upon account of the sum, but 
because you had sent me no letter of advice, which is 
always done in those transactions; and still more, because I 
did not perceive that you had signed it. The person who 
presented it desired me to look again, and that I should 
discover your name at the bottom; accordingly I looked 
again, and with the help of my magnifying glass did per- 
ceive that what I had first taken only for somebody's mark 
was, in truth, your name, written in the worst and smallest 
hand I ever saw in my life. I cannot write quite so ill, 

but it was something like this, ^/^z^ps ^z^^^Tt'*'. 
However, I paid it at a venture ; though I would almost 
rather lose the money, than that such a signature should be 
yours. All gentlemen, and all men of business, write their 
names always in the same way, that their signature may 



i 9 2 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

be so well known as not to be easily counterfeited ; and 
they generally sign in rather a larger character than their 
common hand; whereas your name was in a less, and a 
worse, than your common writing. This suggested to me 
the various accidents which may very probably happen to 
you, while you write so ill. For instance ; if you were to 
write in such a character to the secretary's office, your 
letter would immediately be sent to the decipherer, as 
containing matters of the utmost secrecy, not fit to be 
trusted to the common character. If you were to write 
so to an antiquarian, he (knowing you to be a man of 
learning) would certainly try it by the Runic, Celtic, or 
Sclavonian alphabet, never suspecting it to be a modern 
character. And if you were to send a poulet to a fine 
woman in such a hand, she would think that it really 
came from the poulailler^ which, by-the-by, is the 
etymology of the word, poulet ; for Henry the Fourth of 
France used to send billets-doux to his mistresses, by his 
poulailler, under pretence of sending them chickens ; 
which gave the name of poukts to those short, but 
expressive manuscripts. I have often told you that every 
man who has the use of his eyes and of his hand can 
write whatever hand he pleases; and it is plain that you 
can, since you write both the Greek and German characters, 
which you never learned of a writing-master, extremely 
well, though your common hand, which you learned of 
a master, is an exceeding bad and illiberal one, equally 
unfit for business or common use. I do not desire that 
you should write the laboured, stiff character of a writing- 
master : a man of business must write quick and well, 
and that depends singly upon use. I would therefore 
advise you to get some very good writing-master at Paris, 
and apply to it for a month only, which will be sufficient ; 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 193 

for, upon my word, the writing of a genteel plain hand 
of business is of much more importance than you think. 
You will say, it may be, that when you write so very ill, 
it is because you are in a hurry : to which I answer, Why 
are you ever in a hurry? a man of sense may be in 
haste, but can never be in a hurry, because he knows, 
that whatever he does in a hurry he must necessarily do 
very ill. He may be in haste to dispatch an affair, but 
he will take care not to let that haste hinder his doing 
it well. Little minds are in a hurry, when the object 
proves (as it commonly does) too big for them ; they run, 
they hare, they puzzle, confound, and perplex themselves ; 
they want to do everything at once, and never do it at 
all. But a man of sense takes the time necessary for 
doing the thing he is about, well; and his haste to 
dispatch a business, only appears by the continuity of his 
application to it: he pursues it with a cool steadiness, 
and finishes it before he begins any other. I own your 
time is much taken up, and you have a great many 
different things to do ; but remember that you had much 
better do half of them well, and leave the other half 
undone, than do them all indifferently. Moreover, the 
few seconds that are saved in the course of the day, by 
writing ill instead of well, do not amount to an object 
of time, by any means equivalent to the disgrace or 
ridicule of writing the scrawl of a common whore. Con- 
sider, that if your very bad writing could furnish me with 
matter of ridicule, what will it not do to others, who dc 
not view you in that partial light that I do. There was 
a Pope, I think it was Pope Chigi, who was justly ridiculed 
for his attention to little things, and his inability in great 
ones ; and therefore called maximus in minimi's, and 
minimus in maximi*. Why? Because he attended to 



i 9 4 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

little things, when he had great ones to do. At this 
particular period of your life, and at the place you are 
now in, you have only little things to do ; and you should 
make it habitual to you to do them well, that they may 
require no attention from you when you have, as I hope 
you will have, greater things to mind. Make a good 
handwriting familiar to you now, that you may hereafter 
have nothing but your matter to think of, when you 
have occasion to write to Kings and Ministers. Dance, 
dress, present yourself habitually well now, that you may 
have none of those little things to think of hereafter, and 
which will be all necessary to be done well occasionally, 
when you will have greater things to do. 

As I am eternally thinking of everything that can be 
relative to you, one thing has occurred to me, which I 
think necessary to mention, in order to prevent the diffi- 
culties which it might otherwise lay you under : it is this ; 
as you get more acquaintances at Paris, it will be impossible 
for you to frequent your first acquaintances so much as you 
did, while you had no others. As, for example, at your 
first debu^ I suppose, you were chiefly at Madame Mon- 
conseil's, Lady Hervey's, and Madame du Boccage's. 
Now that you have got so many other houses, you cannot 
be at theirs so often as you used ; but pray take care not 
to give them the least reason to think that you neglect or 
despise them for the sake of new and more dignified and 
shining acquaintances ; which would be ungrateful and 
imprudent on your part, and never forgiven on theirs. 
Call upon them often, though you do not stay with them 
so long as formerly ; tell them that you are sorry you are 
obliged to go away, but that you have such and such 
engagements, with which good breeding obliges you to 
comply; and insinuate that you would rather stay with 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 195 

them. In short, take care to make as many personal 
friends, and as few personal enemies, as possible. I do 
not mean, by personal friends, intimate and confidential 
friends, of which no man can hope to have half-a-dozen in 
the whole course of his life, but I mean friends in the 
common acceptation of the word, that is, people who 
speak well of you, and who would rather do you good 
than harm, consistently with their own interest, and no 
further. Upon the whole, I recommend to you again and 
again les gr&ces. Adorned by them, you may, in a manner, 
do what you please ; it will be approved of : without them, 
your best qualities will lose half their efficacy. Endeavour 
to be fashionable among the French, which will soon make 
you fashionable here. Monsieur de Matignon already 
calls you le petit Francois. If you can get that name 
generally at Paris, it will put you & la mode. Adieu, my 
dear child 



LETTER LX. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, Feb. the 28th, O. S. 1751. 

THIS epigram in Martial, 

" Non amo te, Sabidi, nee possum dicere quare, 
Hoc tantum possum dicere, non amo te ; >M 

has puzzled a great many people ; who cannot conceive how 
it is possible not to love anybody, and yet not to know the 
reason why. I think I conceive Martial's meaning very 
clearly, though the nature of epigram, which is to be short, 

* " I do not love thee, Dr. Fell ; 
The reason why, I cannot tell ; 
But this I'm sure I know full well, 
I do not love thee, Dr. Fell. "Anon. 



i 9 b LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

would not allow him to explain it more fully ; and I take it 
to be this : O Sabidis, you arc a very worthy deserving man ; 
you have a thousand good qualities, you have a great deal of 
learning : I esteem, I respect, but for the soul of me I cannot 
love, you, though I cannot particularly say why. You are 
not aimable ; you have not those engaging manners, those 
pleasing attentions, those graces, and thai address, which are 
absolutely necessary to please, though impossible to define. I 
cannot say it is this or that particular thing that hinders me 
from loving you, it is the whole together; and upon the whole 
you are not agreeable. How often have I, in the course of 
my life, found myself in this situation, with regard to many 
of my acquaintance, whom I have honoured and respected, 
without being able to love ! I did not know why, because, 
when one is young, one does not take the trouble, nor 
allow one's self the time, to analyse one's sentiments, and 
to trace them up to their source. But subsequent observa- 
tion and reflection have taught me why. There is a man, 
whose moral character, deep learning, and superior parts, 
I acknowledge, admire, and respect ; but whom it is so 
impossible for me to love, that I am almost in a fever 
whenever I am in his company. His figure (without being 
deformed) seems made to disgrace or ridicule the common 
structure of the human body. His legs and arms are never 
in the position which, according to the situation of his 
body, they ought to be in ; but constantly employed in 
committing acts of hostility upon the graces. He throws 
anywhere, but down his throat, whatever he means to 
drink; and only mangles what he means to carve. Inatten- 
tive to all the regards of social life, he mistimes or misplaces 
everything. He disputes with heat, and indiscriminately; 
mindless of the rank, character, and situation of those with 
whom he disputes: absolutely ignorant of the several 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 197 

gradations of familiarity or respect, he is exactly the same to 
his superiors, his equals, and his inferiors; and therefore, by 
a necessary consequence, absurd to two of the three. Is it 
possible to love such a man ? No. The utmost I can do 
for him, is to consider him as a respectable Hottentot. 

I remember, that when I came from Cambridge, I had 
acquired, among the pedants of that illiberal seminary, a 
sauciness of literature, a turn to satire and contempt, and a 
strong tendency to argumentation and contradiction. But 
I had been but a very little while in the world, before 1 
found that this would by no means do ; and I immediately 
adopted the opposite character : 1 concealed what learning 
I had; I applauded often, without approving; and I 
yielded commonly, without conviction. Suaviter in modo 
was my Law and my Prophets ; and if I pleased (between 
you and me) it was much more owing to that than to any 
superior knowledge or merit of my own. A propos^ the 
word pleasing puts one always in mind of Lady Hervey : 
pray tell her that I declare her responsible to me for your 
pleasing ; that I consider her as a pleasing Falstaff, who not 
only pleases herself, but is the cause of pleasing in others : 
that I know she can make anything of anybody ; and that, 
as your governess, if she does not make you please, it must 
be only because she will not, and not because she cannot. 
I hope you are, du bois dont on en fait ; and if so, she is so 
good a sculptor, that 1 am sure she can give you whatever 
form she pleases. A versatility of manners is as necessary 
in social, as a versatility of parts is in political, life. One 
must often yield in order to prevail; one must humble 
one's self to be exalted ; one must, like St. Paul, become all 
things to all men to gain some ; and (by 'the way) men are 
taken by the same means, mutatis mutandis, that women 
are gained ; by gentleness, insinuation, and submission : 



i 9 8 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

and these lines of Mr. Dryden's will hold to a Minister as 
well as to a Mistress : 

" The prostrate lover, when he lowest lies, 
But stoops to conquer, and but kneels to rise.' 

In the course of the world, the qualifications of the 
cameleon are often necessary ; nay, they must be carried a 
little farther, and exerted a little sooner ; for you should, to 
a certain degree, take the hue of either the man or the 
woman that you want, and wish to be upon terms with. A 
propos, Have you yet found out at Paris any friendly and 
hospitable Madame de Lursay, qui veut bien se charger du 
soin de vous eduquerl And have you had any occasion of 
representing to her, qifellc faisoit done des nceudsf But I 
ask your pardon, Sir, for the abruptness of the question, 
and acknowledge that I am meddling with matters that are 
out of my department. However, in matters of less 
importance I desire to be, de vos secrets le fidlle depositaire. 
Trust me with the general turn and colour of your amuse- 
ments at Paris. Is it le fracas du grand monde t comedies^ 
bals, operas^ cour, etc.? Or is it des petites societes moins 
brulantes mats pas pour cela moins agreables ? Where are 
you the most etablil Where are you le petit Stanhope 1 
Voyez-vous encore jour a quelque arrangement honntiel 
Have you made many acquaintances among the young 
Frenchmen who ride at your Academy ; and who are they ? 
Send me this sort of chit-chat in your letters, which, by-the- 
by, I wish you would honour me with somewhat oftener. 
If you frequent any of the myriads of polite Englishmen 
who infest Paris, who are they ? Have you finished with 
Abbe Nolet, and are you au fait of all the properties and 
effects of air ? Were I inclined to quibble, I would say 
that the effects of air, at least, are best to be learned of 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 199 

Marcel. If you have quite done with PAbb Nolet, ask my 
friend l'Abb Sallier to recommend to you some meagre 
philomath, to teach you a little geometry and astronomy, 
not enough to absorb your attention and puzzle your intel- 
lects, but only enough not to be grossly ignorant of either. 
I have of late been a sort of an astronome malgre moi, by 
bringing last Monday, into the House of Lords, a bill for 
reforming our present Calendar, and taking the New Style. 
Upon which occasion I was obliged to talk some astro- 
nomical jargon, of which I did not understand one word, 
but got it by heart, and spoke it by rote from a master. I 
wished that I had known a little more of it myself; and 
so much I would have you know. But the great and 
necessary knowledge of all is, to know yourself and others : 
this knowledge requires great attention and long experi- 
ence; exert the former, and may you have the latter! 
Adieu. 

P.S. I have this moment received your letters of the 
27th February, and the 2nd March, N. S. The seal shall 
be done as soon as possible. I am glad that you are 
employed in Lord Albemarle's bureau ; it will teach you, at 
least, the mechanical part of that business, such as folding, 
entering, and docketing letters; for you must not imagine 
that you are let into \htfinfin of the correspondence, nor 
indeed is it fit that you should at your age. However, use 
yourself to secrecy as to the letters you either read or write, 
that in time you may be trusted with secret, very secret, 
separate, apart, etc. I am sorry that this business 
interferes with your riding; I hope it is but seldom; but 
I insist upon its not interfering with your dancing-master, 
who is at this time the most useful and necessary of all the 
masters you have or can have. 



200 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER LXI. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, March the i8th, O. S. 1751. 

I ACQUAINTED you in a former letter, that I had brought 
a bill into the House of Lords for correcting and reforming 
our present calendar, which is the Julian ; and for adopt- 
ing the Gregorian. I will now give you a more particular 
account of that affair ; from which reflections will naturally 
occur to you, that I hope may be useful, and which I fear 
you have not made. It was notorious that the Julian 
calendar was erroneous, and had overcharged the solar 
year with eleven days. Pope Gregory the i3th corrected 
this error ; his reformed calendar was immediately received 
by all the Catholic Powers of Europe, and afterwards 
adopted by all the Protestant ones, except Russia, Sweden, 
and England. It was not, in my opinion, very honourable 
for England to remain in a gross and avowed error, 
especially in such company; the inconveniency of it was 
likewise felt by all those who had foreign correspondences, 
whether political or mercantile. I determined, therefore, 
to attempt the reformation ; I consulted the best lawyers, 
and the most skilful astronomers, and we cooked up a bill 
for that purpose. But then my difficulty began: I was 
to bring in this bill, which was necessarily composed of 
law jargon and astronomical calculations, to both which 
I am an utter stranger. However, it was absolutely neces- 
sary to make the House of Lords think that I knew 
something of the matter ; and also to make them believe 
that they knew something of it themselves, which they 
do not. For my own part, I could just as soon 
have talked Celtic or Sclavonian to them, as astronomy, 
and they would have understood me full as well: so I 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 201 

resolved to do better than speak to the purpose, and to 
please instead of informing them. I gave them, there- 
fore, only an historical account of calendars, from the 
Egyptian down to the Gregorian, amusing them now and 
then with little episodes ; but I was particularly attentive 
to the choice of my words, to the harmony and roundness 
of my periods, to my elocution, to my action. This 
succeeded, and ever will succeed ; they thought I informed, 
because I pleased them : and many of them said that I 
had made the whole very clear to them ; when, God knows, 
I had not even attempted it. Lord Macclesfield, who 
had the greatest share in forming the bill, and who is 
one of the greatest mathematicians and astronomers in 
Europe, spoke afterwards with infinite knowledge, and 
all the clearness that so intricate a matter would admit 
of; but as his words, his periods, and his utterance were 
not near so good as mine, the preference was most unani- 
mously, though most unjustly, given to me. This will 
ever be the case ; every numerous assembly is mob, let 
the individuals who compose it be what they will. Mere 
reason and good sense is never to be talked to a mob: 
their passions, their sentiments, their senses, and their 
seeming interests, are alone to be applied to. Under- 
standing they have collectively none ; but they have ears 
and eyes, which must be flattered and seduced; and this 
can only be done by eloquence, tuneful periods, graceful 
action, and all the various parts of oratory. 

When you come into the House of Commons, if you 
imagine that speaking plain and unadorned sense and 
reason will do your business, you will find yourself most 
grossly mistaken. As a speaker, you will be ranked 
only according to your eloquence, and by no means 
according to your matter; everybody knows the matter 



202 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

almost alike, but few can adorn it. I was early convinced 
of the importance and powers of eloquence; and from 
that moment I applied myself to it. I resolved not to 
utter one word, even in common conversation, that should 
not be the most expressive, and the most elegant, that 
the language could supply me with for that purpose; by 
which means I have acquired such a certain degree of 
habitual eloquence, that I must now really take some 
pains, if I would express myself very inelegantly. I 
want to inculcate this known truth into you, which you 
seem by no means to be convinced of yet, That orna- 
ments are at present your only objects. Your sole business 
now is to shine, not to weigh. Weight without lustre 
is lead. You had better talk trifles elegantly, to the most 
trifling woman, than coarse inelegant sense to the most 
solid man ; you had better return a dropped fan genteelly, 
than give a thousand pounds awkwardly; and you had 
better refuse a favour gracefully, than grant it clumsily. 
Manner is all, in everything : it is by Manner only that 
you can please, and consequently rise. All your Greek 
will never advance you from Secretary to Envoy, or from 
Envoy to Embassador; but your address, your manner, 
your air, if good, very probably may. Marcel can be of 
much more use to you than Aristotle. I would, upon 
my word, much rather that you had Lord Bolingbroke's 
style and eloquence, in speaking and writing, than all 
the learning of the Academy of Sciences, the Royal 
Society, and the two Universities, united. 

Having mentioned Lord Bolingbroke's style, which is, 
undoubtedly, infinitely superior to anybody's, I would 
have you read his works, which you have, over and over 
again, with particular attention to his style. Transcribe, 
imitate, emulate it, if possible : that would be of real use 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 20^ 

to you in the House of Commons, in negotiations, in 
conversation ; with that, you may justly hope to please, 
to persuade, to seduce, to impose; and you will fail in 
those articles, in proportion as you fall short of it. Upon 
the whole, lay aside, during your year's residence at Paris, 
all thoughts of all that dull fellows call solid, and exert 
your utmost care to acquire what people of fashion call 
shining. Prenez rtclat et le brillant <Fun galant homme. 

Among the commonly called little things, to which you 
do not attend, your hand-writing is one, which is indeed 
shamefully bad, and illiberal; it is neither the hand of 
a man of business, nor of a gentleman, but of a truant 
school-boy; as soon, therefore, as you have done with 
Abb Nolet, pray get an excellent writing-master, since 
you think that you cannot teach yourself to write what 
hand you please, and let him teach you to write a genteel, 
legible, liberal hand, and quick ; not the hand of kprocureur^ 
or a writing-master, but that sort of hand in which the 
first Commis in foreign bureaus commonly write: for I 
tell you truly, that were I Lord Albemarle, nothing should 
remain in my bureau written in your present hand. From 
hand to arms the transition is natural; is the carriage 
and motion of your arms so too ? The motion of the 
arms is the most material part of a man's air, especially 
in dancing; the feet are not near so material. If a 
man dances well from the waist upwards, wears his hat 
well, and moves his head properly, he dances well. Do 
the women say that you dress well? for that is necessary 
too for a young fellow. Have you un gofit vif, or a passion 
for anybody? I do not ask for whom; an Iphigenia 
would both give you the desire and teach you the means 
to please. 

In a fortnight or three weeks, you will see Sir Charles 



204 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Hotham at Paris, in his way to Toulouse, where he is to 
stay a year or two. Pray be very civil to him, but do 
not carry him into company, except presenting him to 
Lord Albemarle; for as he is not to stay at Paris above 
a week, we do not desire that he should taste of that 
dissipation : you may show him a play and an opera. 
Adieu, my dear child. 



LETTER LXII. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, May the 6th, O, S. 1751. 

THE best authors are always the severest critics of their 
own works ; they revise, correct, file, and polish them, till 
they think they have brought them to perfection. Con- 
sidering you as my work, I do not look upon myself as a 
bad author, and am therefore a severe critic. I examine 
narrowly into the least inaccuracy or inelegancy, in order to 
correct, not to expose them, and that the work may be 
perfect at last. You are, I know, exceedingly improved in 
your air, address, and manners, since you have been at 
Paris; but still there is, I believe, room for further 
improvement, before you come to that perfection which I 
have set my heart upon seeing you arrive at : and till that 
moment I must continue filing and polishing. In a letter 
that I received by last post, from a friend of yours at Paris, 
there was this paragraph : Sans flatterie, fat fhonneur de 
vous assurer que Monsieur Stanhope reussit id au de la de 
ce qdon attendroit d?une personne de son age ; il voit trts- 
bonne compagnie^ et ce petit ton qdon regardoit tfabord comme 
un peii decide et un peu brusque^ rfest rien mains que 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 205 

parce qdil est Feffet de la franchise^ accompagn'ee de la 
politesse et de la deference. II f'etudie d' plaire^ et il y 
teussit. Madame de Puisieux en parloit Vautre jour avec 
Complaisance et interet : vous en serez content a tons egard*. 
This is extremely well, and I rejoice at it : one little circum- 
stance only may, and I hope will, be altered for the better. 
Take pains to undeceive those who thought that petit ton un 
peu decide et un peu brusque ; as it is not meant so, let it not 
appear so. Compose your countenance to an air of gentle- 
ness and douceur^ use some expressions of diffidence of 
your own opinion, and deference to other people's ; such as, 
fil ntest permis de le dire -je croirois ne seroit-ce pas plutot 
comme cela f Au mains fat tout lieu de me defter de moi- 
meme: such mitigating, engaging words do by no means 
weaken your argument ; but, on the contrary, make it more 
powerful, by making it more pleasing. If it is a quick and 
hasty manner of speaking that people mistake, pour decide et 
brusque^ prevent their mistakes for the future, by speaking 
more deliberately, and taking a softer tone of voice : as in 
this case you are free from the guilt, be free from the 
suspicion too. Mankind, as I have often told you, is more 
governed by appearances than by realities : and, with regard 
to opinion, one had better be really rough and hard, with 
the appearance of gentleness and softness, than just the 
reverse. Few people have penetration enough to discover, 
attention enough to observe, or even concern enough to 
examine, beyond the exterior ; they take their notions from 
the surface, and go no deeper; they commend, as the 
gentlest and best-natured man in the world, that man who 
has the most engaging exterior manner, though possibly 
they have been but once in his company. An air, a tone 
of voice, a composure of countenance to mildness and 
softness, which are all easily acquired, do the business , 

16 



206 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

and without further examination, and possibly with the 
contrary qualities, that man is reckoned the gentlest, the 
modestest, and the best-natured man alive. Happy the 
man who, with a certain fund of parts and knowledge, gets 
acquainted with the world early enough to make it his 
bubble, at an age when most people are the bubbles of the 
world ! for that is the common case of youth. They grow 
wiser when it is too late : and, ashamed and vexed at having 
been bubbles so long, too often turn knaves at last. Do 
not therefore trust to appearances and outside yourself, but 
pay other people with them ; because you may be sure that 
nine in ten ot mankind do, and ever will, trust to them. 
This is by no means a criminal or blamable simulation, if 
not used with an ill intention. I am by no means blam- 
able in desiring to have other people's good word, good 
will, and affection, if I do not mean to abuse them. Your 
heart, I know, is good, your sense is sound, and your 
knowledge extensive. What then remains for you to do ? 
Nothing, but to adorn those fundamental qualifications 
with such engaging and captivating manners, softness, and 
gentleness, as will endear you to those who are able to judge 
of your real merit, and which always stand in the stead of 
merit with those who are not. I do not mean by this 
to recommend to you le fade doucereux, the insipid softness 
of a gentle fool : no, assert your own opinion, oppose other 
people's when wrong ; but let your manner, your air, your 
terms, and your tone of voice, be soft and gentle, and that 
easily and naturally, not affectedly. Use palliatives when 
you contradict ; such as, / may be mistaken, I am not sure, 
but I believe, I should rather think, etc. Finish any 
argument or dispute with some little good-humoured 
pleasantly, to show that you are neither hurt yourself, nor 
meant to hurt your antagonist ; for an argument, kept up a 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 207 

good while, often occasions a temporary alienation on each 
side. Pray observe particularly, in those French people 
who are distinguished by that character, cette douceur de 
moeurs et de manilres^ which they talk of so much, and value 
so justly ; see in what it consists ; in mere trifles, and most 
easy to be acquired, where the heart is really good. 
Imitate, copy it, till it becomes habitual and easy to you. 
Without a compliment to you, I take it to be the only 
thing you now want : nothing will sooner give it you than a 
real passion, or, at least, un gout vi for some woman of 
fashion \ and as I suppose that you have either the one or 
the other by this time, you are consequently in the best 
school. Besides this, if you were to say to Lady Hervey, 
Madame Monconseil, or such others as you look upon to 
be your friends, On dit que fai un certain petit ton trop 
decide et trop brusque, Fintention pourtant riy est pas; 
corrigez-moi) je vous en supplie> et chatiez-moi meme publique- 
ment quand vous me trouverez sur le fait. Ne me passez 
rien, poussez votre critique jusqu'd Vexces ; un juge aussi 
eclaire est en droit d'ttre s'evere, et je vous promets que le 
coupable t&chera de se corriger. 

Yesterday I had two of your acquaintances to dine with 
me, Baron B. and his companion Monsieur S. I cannot 
say of the former, qu'il est paitri de graces; and I would 
rather advise him to go and settle quietly at home, than to 
think of improving himself by further travels, Ce riestpas le 
bois dont on en fait. His companion is much better, though 
he has a strong tocco di tedesco. They both spoke well of 
you, and so far I liked them both. Comment vont nos 
affaires avec Vaimable petite Blotl Se prtte-t-elle a vos 
fleuretteS) ttes-vous cens'e d'etre sur les rangsl Madame du 

est-elle votre Madame de Lursay^ et fait-elle quelque- 

fois det nceuds 1 Seriez vous son Meilcour 1 Elle. a, dit on 



zoS LORD CHESTERFIELD* S 

de la douceur, de V esprit, des mantires ; il y a b apprendre 
dans un tel apprentissage. A woman like her, who has 
always pleased, and often been pleased, can best teach the 
art of pleasing ; that art, without which ogni fatica 2 vana. 
Marcel's lectures are no small part of that art ; they are the 
engaging forerunner of all other accomplishments. Dress is 
also an article not to be neglected, and I hope you do not 
neglect it; it helps in the premier abord, which is often 
decisive. By dress, I mean your clothes being well made, 
fitting you, in the fashion, and not above it ; your hair well 
done, and a general cleanliness and spruceness in your 
person. I hope you take infinite care of your teeth; the 
consequences of neglecting the mouth are serious, not only 
to one's self but to others. In short, my dear child, neglect 
nothing ; a little more will complete the whole. Adieu ! I 
have not heard from you these three weeks, which I think a 
great while. 



LETTER LXIII. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Greenwich, June the I3th, O. S. 1751. 

Les biens'eances are a most necessary part of the know- 
ledge of the world. They consist in the relations of 
persons, things, time, and place ; good sense points them 
out, good company perfects them (supposing always an 
attention and a desire to please), and good policy recom- 
mends them. 

Were you to converse with a King, you ought to be as 
easy and unembarrassed as with your own valet-de-chambre : 
but yet every look, word, and action should imply the 
utmost respect. What would be proper and well bred with 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 209 

others, much your superiors, would be absurd and ill bred 
with one so very much so. You must wait till you are 
spoken to ; you must receive, not give, the subject of con- 
versation ; and you must even take care that the given 
subject of such conversation do not lead you into any 
impropriety. The art would be to carry it, if possible, to 
some indirect flattery : such as commending those virtues 
in some other person, in which that Prince either thinks he 
does or at least would be thought by others to excel. 
Almost the same precautions are necessary to be used with 
Ministers, Generals, etc, who expect to be treated with 
very near the same respect as their masters, and commonly 
deserve it better. There is, however, this difference, that 
one may begin the conversation with them, if on their side 
it should happen to drop, provided one does not carry it to 
any subject, upon which it is improper either for them to 
speak or be spoken to. In these two cases, certain atti- 
tudes and actions would be extremely absurd, because too 
easy, and consequently disrespectful. As, for instance, if 
you were to put your arms across in your bosom, twirl your 
snuff-box, trample with your feet, scratch your head, etc., it 
would be shockingly ill bred in that company ; and, indeed, 
not extremely well bred in any other. The great difficulty 
in those cases, though a very surmountable one by atten- 
tion and custom, is to jioin perfect inward ease with perfect 
outward respect. 

Iifmixed companies with your equals (for in mixed com- 
panies all people are to a certain degree equal) greater ease 
and liberty are allowed ; but they too have their bounds 
within bienseance. There is a social respect necessary: you 
may start your own subject of conversation with modesty, 
taking great care, however, de nejamais parkr de cordes dun.; 
la maison d*un pendu. Your words, gestures, and attitudes 



2 io LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

have a greater degree of latitude, though by no means an 
unbounded one. You may have your hands in your pockets, 
take snuff, sit, stand, or occasionally walk, as you like : but 
I believe you would not think it very bienseant to whistle, 
put on your hat, loosen your garters or your buckles, lie 
down upon a couch, or go to bed and welter in an easy- 
chair. These are negligences and freedoms which one can 
only take when quite alone : they are injurious to superiors, 
shocking and offensive to equals, brutal and insulting to 
inferiors. That easiness of carriage and behaviour, which 
is exceedingly engaging, widely differs from negligence and 
inattention, and by no means implies that one may do 
whatever one pleases ; it only means that one is not to be 
stiff, formal, embarrassed, disconcerted, and ashamed, like 
country bumpkins, and people who have never been in 
good company; but it requires great attention to, and a 
scrupulous observation of, les bienseances : whatever one 
ought to do is to be done with ease and unconcern ; what- 
ever is improper must not be done at all. In mixed 
companies, also, different ages and sexes are to be differ- 
ently addressed. You would not talk of your pleasures to 
men of a certain age, gravity, and dignity; they justly 
expect, from young people, a degree of deference and 
regard. You should be full as easy with them as with 
people of your own years : but your manner must be 
different ; more respect must be implied ; and it is not 
amiss to insinuate, that from them you expect to learn. It 
flatters and comforts age, for not being able to take a part 
in the joy and titter of youth. To women you should 
always address yourself with great outward respect and 
attention, whatever you feel inwardly ; their sex is by long 
prescription entitled to it ; and it is among the duties of 
bienseance : at the same time that respect is very properly, 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 211 

and very agreeably, mixed with a degree of enjouement^ if 
you have it : but then, that badinage must either directly or 
indirectly tend to their praise, and "even not be liable to a 
malicious construction to their disadvantage. But here, 
too, great attention must be had to the difference of age, 
rank^ and situation. A Marechale of fifty must not be 
played with like a young coquette of fifteen : respect and 
serious enjouement^ if I may couple those two words, must 
be used with the former, and mere badinage, zeste mtme d j un 
peu de polissonnerie, is pardonable with the latter. 

Another important point of les bienseances, seldom enough 
attended to, is, not to run your own present humour and 
disposition indiscriminately against everybody : but to ob- 
serve, conform to, and adopt, theirs. For example ; if you 
happened to be in high good-humour and a flow of spirits, 
would you go and sing a pont neuf y or cut a caper, to la 
Mardchale de Coigny, the Pope's Nuncio, or Abbd Sallier, 
or to any person of natural gravity and melancholy, or who 
at that time should be in grief? I believe not: as, on the 
other hand, I suppose that if you were in low spirits, or 
real grief, you would not choose to bewail your situation 
with la petite Blot. If you cannot command your present 
humour and disposition, single out those to converse with, 
who happen to be in the humour nearest to your own. 

Loud laughter is extremely inconsistent with les bien- 
seances, as it is only the illiberal and noisy testimony of the 
joy of the mob, at some very silly thing. A gentleman is 
often seen, but very seldom heard, to laugh. Nothing is 
more contrary to les bienseances than horse-play, or jeux de 
main of any kind whatever, and has often very serious, 
sometimes very fatal, consequences. Romping, struggling, 
throwing things at one another's head, are the becoming 
pleasantries of the mob, but degrade a gentleman ; giuoco di 



212 LO&D CHESTERFIELD'S 

mano, giuoco di villano, is a very true saying, among the fer 
true sayings of the Italians. 

Peremptoriness and decision in young people is contraire 
aux bienseances : they should seem to assert, and always use 
some softening mitigating expression; such as s'il m'est 
permis de le dire, je croirois plutot, si fose iriexpliquer, 
which softens the manner, without giving up, or even 
weakening, the thing. People of more age and experience 
expect and are entitled to that degree of deference. 

There is a bienseance also with regard to people of the 
lowest degree ; a gentleman observes it with his footman, 
even with the beggar in the street. He considers them as 
objects of compassion, not of insult ; he speaks to neither 
d'un ton brusque, but corrects the one coolly, and refuses the 
other with humanity. There is no one occasion in the 
world, in which le ton brusque is becoming a gentleman. 
In short, les bienseances are another word for manners, and 
extend to every part of life. They are propriety; the 
Graces should attend ki order to complete them : the 
Graces enable us to do, genteelly and pleasingly, what les 
bienseances require to be done at all. The latter are an 
obligation upon every man ; the former are an infinite 
advantage and ornament to any man. May you unite 
both! 

Though you dance well, do not think that you dance 
well enough, and consequently not endeavour to dance still 
better. And though you should be told that you are 
genteel, still aim at being genteeler. If Marcel should, do 
not you, be satisfied. Go on, court the Graces all your 
lifetime ; you will find no better friends at Court : they will 
speak in your favour, to the hearts of Princes, Ministers, 
and Mistresses. 

Now that all tumultuous passions and quick sensations 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 213 

have subsided with me, and that I have no tormenting cares 
nor boisterous pleasures to agitate me, my greatest joy is to 
consider the fair prospect you have before you, and to hope 
and believe you will enjoy it. You are already in the 
world, at an age when others have hardly heard of it. 
Your character is hitherto not only unblemished in its 
moral part, but even unsullied by any low, dirty, and 
ungentlemanlike vice ; and will, I hope, continue so. Your 
knowledge is sound, extensive, and avowed, especially in 
everything relative to your destination. With such mate- 
rials to begin with, what then is wanting ? Not fortune, as 
you have found by experience. You have had, and shall 
have, fortune sufficient to assist your merit and your indus- 
try ; and, if I can help it, you never shall have enough to 
make you negligent of either. You have, too, mens sana in 
wrpore sano, the greatest blessing of all. All therefore that 
you want is as much in your power to acquire, as to eat 
your breakfast when set before you : it is only that know- 
ledge of the world, that elegancy of manners, that universal 
politeness, and those graces, which keeping good company, 
and seeing variety of places and characters, must inevitably, 
with the least attention on your part, give you. Your 
foreign destination leads to the greatest things, and your 
parliamentary situation will facilitate your progress ; con- 
sider, then, this pleasing prospect as attentively for yourself, 
as I consider it for you. Labour on your part to realise it, 
as I will on mine to assist and enable you to do it. Nullum 
numen abest, si sit prudentia. 

Adieu ! my dear child. I count the days till I have the 
pleasure of seeing you : I shall soon count the hours, and at 
last the minutes, with increasing impatience. 

P.S. The mohairs are this day gone from hence for 



2 i4 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Calais; recommended to the care of Madame Morel, and 
directed, as desired, to the Comptroller-General. The 
three pieces come to six hundred and eighty French livres. 



LETTER LXIV. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, June 24th, O. S. 1751. 

AIR, address, manners, and graces are of such infinite 
advantage to whoever has them, and so peculiarly and 
essentially necessary for you, that now, as the time of our 
meeting draws near, I tremble for fear I should not find 
you possessed of them ; and, to tell you the truth, I doubt 
you are not yet sufficiently convinced of their importance. 

There is, for instance, your intimate friend Mr. H , 

who, with great merit, deep knowledge, and a thousand 
good qualities, will never make a figure in the world while 
he lives: Why? Merely for want of those external and 
showish accomplishments, which he began the world too 
late to acquire; and which, with his studious and philo- 
sophical turn, I believe he thinks are not worth his 
attention. He may, very probably, make a figure in the 
republic of letters ; but he had ten thousand times better 
make a figure as a man of the world and of business in the 
republic of the United Provinces, which, take my word for 
it, he never will. 

As I open myself, without the least reserve, whenever I 
think that my doing so can be of any use to you, I will give 
you a short account of myself when I first came into the 
world, which was at the age you are of now, so that (by the 
way) you have got the start of me in that important article 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 215 

by two or three years at least. At nineteen, I left the 
university of Cambridge, where I was an absolute pedant : 
when I talked ray best, I quoted Horace ; when I aimed at 
being facetious, I quoted Martial ; and when I had a mind 
to be a fine gentleman, I talked Ovid. I was convinced 
that none but the ancients had common sense ; that the 
Classics contained everything that was either necessary, 
useful, or ornamental to men ; and I was not without 
thoughts of wearing the toga virilis of the Romans, instead 
of the vulgar and illiberal dress of the moderns. With 
these excellent notions, I went first to the Hague, where, 
by the help of several letters of recommendation, I was 
soon introduced into all the best company; and where I 
very soon discovered that I was totally mistaken in almost 
every one notion I had entertained. Fortunately, I had a 
strong desire to please (the mixed result of good nature and 
a vanity by no means blamable), and was sensible that I 
had nothing but the desire. I therefore resolved, if possible, 
to acquire the means too. I studied attentively and 
minutely the dress, the air, the manner, the address, and 
the turn of conversation of all those whom I found to be 
the people in fashion, and most generally allowed to please. 
I imitated them as well as I could ; if I heard that one man 
was reckoned remarkably genteel, I carefully watched his 
dress, motions, and attitudes, and formed my own upon 
them. When I heard of another, whose conversation was 
agreeable and engaging, I listened and attended to the turn 
of it. I addressed myself, though de trh-mauvaise grdce, to 
all the most fashionable fine ladies ; confessed, and laughed 
with them at my own awkwardness and rawness, recom- 
mending myself as an object for them to try their skill in 
forming. By these means, and with a passionate desire of 
pleasing everybody, I came by degrees to please some ; and, 



?i6 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

I can assure you, that what little figure I have made in the 
world, has been much more owing to that passionate desire 
I had of pleasing universally than to any intrinsic merit or 
sound knowledge I might ever have been master of. My 
passion for pleasing was so strong (and I am very glad it 
was so) that I own to you fairly, I wished to make every 
woman I saw in love with me, and every man I met with 
admire me. Without this passion for the object, I should 
never have been so attentive to the means; and I own I 
cannot conceive how it is possible for any man of good 
nature and good sense to be without this passion. Does 
not good nature incline us to please all those we converse 
with, of whatever rank or station they may be ? And does 
not good sense and common observation show of what 
infinite use it is to please ? Oh ! but one may please by the 
good qualities of the heart, and the knowledge of the head, 
without that fashionable air, address, and manner, which is 
mere tinsel. I deny it. A man may be esteemed and 
respected, but I defy him to please without them. More- 
over, at your age, I would not have contented myself with 
barely pleasing; I wanted to shine, and to distinguish 
myself in the world as a man of fashion and gallantry, as 
well as business. And that ambition or vanity, call it what 
you please, was a right one ; it hurt nobody, and made me 
exert whatever talents I had. It is the spring of a thousand 
right and good things. 

I was talking you over the other day with one very much 
your friend, and who had often been with you, both at Paris 
and in Italy. Among the innumerable questions, which you 
may be sure I asked him concerning you, I happened to 
mention your dress (for, to say the truth, it was the only 
thing of which I thought him a competent judge), upon 
which he said that you dressed tolerably well at Paris ; but 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 217 

that in Italy you dressed so ill, that he used to joke with 
you upon it, and even to tear your clothes. Now, I must 
tell you, that at your age it is as ridiculous not to be very 
well dressed, as at my age it would be if I were to wear a 
white feather and red-heeled shoes. Dress is one of the 
various ingredients that contribute to the art of pleasing ; it 
pleases the eyes at least, and more especially of women. 
Address yourself to the senses, if you would please ; dazzle 
the eyes, soothe and flatter the ears, of mankind ; engage 
their heart, and let their reason do its worst against you. 
Suaviter in modo is the great secret. Whenever you find 
yourself engaged insensibly in favour ot anybody, of no 
superior merits nor distinguished talents, examine, and see 
what it is that has made those impressions upon you : you 
will find it to be that douceur^ that gentleness of manners, 
that air and address, which I have so often recommended to 
you; and from therice draw this obvious conclusion, that 
what pleases you in them will please others in you ; for we 
are all made of the same clay, though some of the lumps are 
a little finer, and some a little coarser ; but, in general, the 
surest way to judge of others is to examine and analyse 
one's self thoroughly. When we meet I will assist you in 
that analysis, in which every man wants some assistance 
against his own self-love. Adieu. 



LETTER LXV. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Greenwich, July the I5th, O. S. 1751. 

As this is the last, or the last letter but one, that I think 
I shall write before I have the pleasure of seeing you here, it 



2i8 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

may not be amiss to prepare you a little for our interview, 
and for the time we shall pass together. Before Kings and 
Princes meet, Ministers on each side adjust the important 
points of precedence, arm-chairs, right hand and left, etc., 
so that they know previously what they are to expect, what 
they have to trust to : and it is right they should ; for they 
commonly envy or hate, but most certainly distrust, each 
other. We shall meet upon very different terms ; we want 
no such preliminaries : you know my tenderness, I know 
your affection. My only object, therefore, is to make your 
short stay with me as useful as I can to you ; and yours, I 
hope, is to co-operate with me. Whether, by making it 
wholesome, I shall make it pleasant to you, I am not sure. 
Emetics and cathartics I shall not administer, because I am 
sure you do not want them ; but for alteratives you must 
expect a great many; and I can tell you that I have a 
number of nostrums^ which I shall communicate to nobody 
but yourself. To speak without a metaphor, I shall 
endeavour to assist your youth with all the experience 
that I have purchased, at the price of seven-and-fifty years. 
In order to this, frequent reproofs, corrections, and admoni- 
tions will be necessary ; but then, I promise you, that they 
shall be in a gentle, friendly, and secret manner ; they shall 
not put you out of countenance in company, nor out of 
humour when we are alone. I do not expect that, at 
nineteen, you should have that knowledge of the world, 
those manners, that dexterity, which few people have at 
nine-and-twenty. But I will endeavour to give them you ; 
and I am sure you will endeavour to learn them, as far as 
your youth, my experience, and the time we shall pass 
together, will allow. You may have many inaccuracies 
(and to be sure you have, for who has not at your age), 
which few people will tell you of, and some nobody can tell 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 219 

you of but myself. You may possibly have others, too, 
which eyes less interested, and less vigilant than mine, do 
not discover : all those you shall hear of, from one, whose 
tenderness for you will excite his curiosity, and sharpen his 
penetration. The smallest inattention, or error in manners, 
the minutest inelegance of diction, the least awkwardness in 
your dress and carriage, will not escape my observation, nor 
pass without amicable correction. Two of the most intimate 
friends in the world can freely tell each other their faults, 
and even their crimes ; but cannot possibly tell each other 
of certain little weaknesses, awkwardnesses, and blindnesses 
of self-love; to authorise that unreserved freedom, the 
relation between us is absolutely necessary. For example ; 
I had a very worthy friend, with whom I was intimate 
enough to tell him his faults ; he had but few ; I told him 
of them, he took it kindly of me, and corrected them. But, 
then, he had some weaknesses that I could never tell him 
of directly, and which he was so little sensible of himself, 
that hints of them were lost upon him. He had a scrag 
neck, of about a yard long ; notwithstanding which, bags 
being in fashion, truly he would wear one to his wig, and 
did so ; but never behind him, for, upon every motion of 
his head, his bag came forwards over one shoulder or the 
other. He took it into his head, too, that he must occa- 
sionally dance minuets, because other people did ; and he 
did so, not only extremely ill, but so awkward, so dis- 
jointed, so slim, so meagre, was his figure, that had he 
danced as well as ever Marcel did it would have been 
ridiculous in him to have danced at all. I hinted these 
things to him as plainly as friendship would allow, and to 
no purpose ; but to have told him the whole, so as to cure 
him, I must have been his father, which, thank God, I am 
not. As fathers commonly go, it is seldom a misfortune to 



220 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

be fatherless ; and, considering the general run of sons, as 
seldom a misfortune to be childless. You and I form, I 
believe, an exception to that rule; for I am persuaded that 
we would neither of us change our relation, were it in oui 
power. You will, I both hope and believe, be not only the 
comfort, but the pride, of my age ; and I am sure I will be 
the support, the friend, the guide of your youth. Trust me 
without reserve ; I will advise you without private interest, 
or secret envy. Mr. Harte will do so too ; but still there 
may be some little things proper for you to know, and 
necessary for you to correct, which even his friendship 
would not let him tell you of so freely as I should ; and 
some of which he may possibly not be so good a judge of 
as I am, not having lived so much in the great world. 

One principal topic of our conversation will be not only 
the purity but the elegancy of the English language, in both 
which you are very deficient. Another will be the con- 
stitution of this country, which, I believe, you know less of 
than of most other countries in Europe. Manners, atten- 
tions, and address, will also be the frequent subjects of 
our lectures ; and whatever I know of that important and 
necessary art, the art of pleasing, I will unreservedly com- 
municate to you. Dress, too (which, as things are, I can 
logically prove requires some attention), will not always 
escape our notice. Thus my lectures will be more various, 
and in some respects more useful, than Professor Mascow's; 
and therefore I can tell you that I expect to be paid for 
them : but, as possibly you would not care to part with your 
ready money, and as I do not think that it would be quite 
handsome in me to accept it, I will compound for the 
payment, and take it in attention and practice. 

Pray remember to part with all your friends, acquaint- 
ances, and mistresses, if you have any at Paris, in such a 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 221 

manner, as may make them not only willing, but impatient, to 
see you there again. Assure them of your desire of return- 
ing to them ; and do it in a manner, that they may think 
you in earnest, that is, avec onction et une esplce <T attendrisse- 
ment. All people say pretty near the same things upon 
those occasions, it is the manner only that makes the 
difference; and that difference is great. Avoid, however, 
as much as you can, charging yourself with commissions, in 
your return from hence to Paris: I know, by experience, 
that they are exceedingly troublesome, commonly expensive, 
and very seldom satisfactory at last to the persons who give 
them : some you cannot refuse, to people to whom you are 
obliged, and would oblige in your turn ; but as to common 
fiddle-faddle commissions, you may excuse yourself from 
them with truth, by saying that you are to return to Paris 
through Flanders, and see all those great towns, which I 
intend you shall do, and stay a week or ten days at 
Brussels. Adieu ! A good journey to you, if this is my 
last ; if not, I can repeat again what I shall wish constantly. 



LETTER LXV1. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, Dec. the iQth, O. S. 1751. 

You are now entered upon a scene of business, where 
I hope you will one day make a figure. Use does a great 
deal, but care and attention must be joined to it. The 
first thing necessary in writing letters of business, is extreme 
clearness and perspicuity; every paragraph should be so 
clear, and unambiguous, that the dullest fellow in the world 
may not be able to mistake it, nor obliged to read it twice 



222 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

in order to understand it. This necessary clearness implies 
a correctness, without excluding an elegancy of style. 
Tropes, figures, antitheses, epigrams, etc., would be as 
misplaced, and as impertinent, in letters of business, as 
they are sometimes (if judiciously used) proper and pleasing 
in familiar letters, upon common and trite subjects. In 
business, an elegant simplicity, the result of care not of 
labour, is required. Business must be well, not affectedly, 
dressed, but by no means negligently. Let your first 
attention be to clearness, and read every paragraph after 
you have written it, in the critical view of discovering 
whether it is possible that any one man can mistake the 
true sense of it ; and correct it accordingly. 

Our pronouns and relatives often create obscurity or 
ambiguity ; be therefore exceedingly attentive to them, and 
take care to mark out with precision their particular 
relations. For example ; Mr. Johnson acquainted me, 
that he had seen Mr. Smith, who had promised him to 
speak to Mr. Clarke, to return him (Mr. Johnson) those 
papers, which he (Mr. Smith) had left some time ago with 
him (Mr. Clarke) : it is better to repeat a name, though 
unnecessarily, ten times, than to have the person mistaken 
once. Who, you know, is singly relative to persons, and 
cannot be applied to things ; which, and that, are chiefly 
relative to things, but not absolutely exclusive of persons ; 
for one may say, the man that robbed or killed such-a-one ; 
but it is much better to say, the man who robbed or killed. 
One never says, the man or the woman which. Which and 
that, though chiefly relative to ' things, cannot be always 
used indifferently as to things ; and the cv<ovia must 
sometimes determine their place. For instance ; The 
letter which I received from you, which you referred to in 
your last, which came by Lord Albemarle's messenger, and 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 223 

which I showed to such-a-one ; I would change it thus 
The letter that I received from you, which you referred to 
in your last, that came by Lord Albemarle's messenger, 
and which I showed to such-a-one. 

Business does not exclude (as possibly you wish it did) 
the usual terms of politeness and good breeding ; but, on 
the contrary, strictly requires them : such as, I have the 
honour to acquaint your Lordship; Permit me to assure 
you ; If I may be allowed to give my opinion^ etc. For the 
Minister abroad, who writes to the Minister at home, writes 
to his superior ; possibly to his patron, or at least to one 
who he desires should be so. 

Letters of business will not only admit of, but be the 
better for, certain graces : but then they must be scattered 
with a sparing and a skilful hand ; they must fit their place 
exactly. They must decently adorn without encumbering, 
and modestly shine without glaring. But as this is the 
utmost degree of perfection in letters of business, I would 
not advise you to attempt those embellishments till you 
have first laid your foundation well. 

Cardinal d'Ossat's letters are the true letters of business; 
those of Monsieur d'Avaux are excellent ; Sir William 
Temple's are very pleasing, but, I fear, too affected. 
Carefully avoid all Greek or Latin quotations : and bring 
no precedents from the virtuous Spartans^ the polite 
Athenians, and the brave Romans. Leave all that to futile 
pedants. No flourishes, no declamation. But (I repeat 
it again) there is an elegant simplicity and dignity of style 
absolutely necessary for good letters of business ; attend to 
that carefully. Let your periods be harmonious, without 
seeming to be laboured ; and let them not be too long, for 
that always occasions a degree of obscurity. I should not 
mention correct orthography, but that you very often fail in 



224 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

that particular, which will bring ridicule upon you ; for no 
man is allowed to spell ill. I wish, too, that your hand- 
writing were much better: and I cannot conceive why 
it is not, since every man may certainly write whatever 
hand he pleases. Neatness in folding up, sealing, and 
directing your packets, is by no means to be neglected, 
though I dare say you think it is. But there is something 
in the exterior, even of a packet, that may please or 
displease ; and consequently worth some attention. 

You say that your time is very well employed, and so it 
is, though as yet only in the outlines and first routine of 
business. They are previously necessary to be known; 
they smooth the way for parts and dexterity. Business 
requires no conjuration nor supernatural talents, as people 
unacquainted with it are apt to think. Method, diligence, 
and discretion will carry a man of good strong common 
sense much higher than the finest parts without them can 
do. Par negotiiS) neque supra^ is the true character of a 
man of business : but then it implies ready attention, and 
no absences ; and a flexibility and versatility of attention 
from one object to another, without being engrossed by any 
one. 

Be upon your guard against the pedantry and affectation 
of business, which young people are apt to fall into from 
the pride of being concerned in it young. They look 
thoughtful, complain of the weight of business, throw out 
mysterious hints, and seem big with secrets which they 
do not know. Do you, on the contrary, never talk of 
business, but to those with whom you are to transact it; 
and learn to seem vacuus, and idle, when you have the 
most business. Of all things the volto sriolto, and the 
pensieri strettt, are necessary. Adieu. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 225 

LETTER LXVII. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, February the I4th, O. S. 1752. 

IN a month's time, I believe, I shall have the pleasure 
of sending you, and you will have the pleasure of reading, a 
work of Lord Bolingbroke's, in two volumes octavo, upon 
the use of History ; in several Letters to Lord Hyde, then 
Lord Cornbury, It is now put into the press. It is hard 
to determine whether this work will instruct or please most : 
the most material historical facts, from the great era of the 
treaty of Munster, are touched upon, accompanied by the 
most solid reflections, and adorned by all that elegancy of 
style, which was peculiar to himself, and in which, if Cicero 
equals, he certainly does not exceed him ; but every other 
writer falls short of him. I would advise you almost to get 
this book by heart. I think you have a turn to history, you 
love it, and have a memory to retain it; this book will 
teach you the proper use of it. Some people load their 
memories, indiscriminately, with historical facts, as others 
do their stomachs with food; and bring out the one, and 
bring up the other, entirely crude and undigested. You 
will find in Lord Bolingbroke's book, an infallible specific 
against that epidemical complaint. 

I remember a gentleman, who had read History in this 
thoughtless and undistinguishing manner, and who, having 
travelled, had gone through the Valteline. He told me 
that it was a miserable, poor country, and therefore it was, 
surely, a great error in Cardinal Richelieu, to make such a 
rout, and put France to so much expense about it. Had 
my friend read History as he ought to have done, he would 
have known that the great object of that great Minister was 
to reduce the power of the house of Austria ; and, in order 



226 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S - 

to that, to cut off as much as he could the communication 
between the several parts of their then extensive dominions ; 
which reflections would have justified the Cardinal to him 
in the affair of the Valteline. But it was easier to him to 
remember facts, than to combine and reflect. 

One observation I hope you will make in reading History, 
for it is an obvious and a true one. It is, That more people 
have made great figures and great fortunes in Courts, by 
their exterior accomplishments, than by their interior quali- 
fications. Their engaging address, the politeness of their 
manners, their air, their turn, hath almost alway paved the 
way for their superior abilities, if they have such to exert 
themselves. They have been Favourites before they have 
been Ministers. In courts a universal gentleness and 
douceur dans les manures is most absolutely necessary : an 
offended fool, or a slighted valet dc chambre, may very 
possibly do you more hurt at Court, than ten men of merit 
can do you good. Fools, and low people, are always 
jealous of their dignity, and never forget nor forgive what 
they reckon a slight. On the other hand, they take civility, 
and a little attention, as a favour ; remember, and acknow- 
ledge it : this, in my mind, is buying them cheap ; and, 
therefore, they are worth buying. The Prince himself, who 
is rarely the shining genius of his Court, esteems you only 
by hearsay, but likes you by his senses ; that is, from your 
air, your politeness, and your manner of addressing him ; of 
which alone he is a judge. There is a Court garment, as 
well as a wedding garment, without which you will not be 
received. That garment is the volto sciolto ; an imposing 
air, an elegant politeness, easy and engaging manners, 
universal attention, an insinuating gentleness, and all those 
je nt sais quoi that compose the Graces. 

I am this moment disagreeably interrupted by a letter ; 



LETTERS TO HIS SOtf. **t 

not from you, as I expected, but from a friend of yours at 
Paris, who informs me that you have a fever, which confines 
you at home. Since you have a fever, I am glad you have 
prudence enough with it, to stay at home, and take care 
of yourself; a little more prudence might probably have 
prevented it. Your blood is young, and consequently hot ; 
and you naturally make a great deal, by your good stomach 
and good digestion; you should therefore necessarily 
attenuate and cool it, from time to time, by gentle purges 
or by a very low diet, for two or three days together, if you 
would avoid fevers. Lord Bacon, who was a very great 
physician, in both senses of the word, hath this aphorism in 
his Essay upon Health, Nihil magis ad sanitatem tribuit 
quam crebrtK et domestic^ purgationes. By domestic^ he 
means those simple uncompounded purgatives, which every- 
body can administer to themselves; such as senna tea, 
stewed prunes and senna, chewing a little rhubarb or 
dissolving an ounce and a half of manna in fair water, with 
the juice of half a lemon to make it palatable. Such gentle 
and unconfining evacuations would certainly prevent those 
feverish attacks, to which everybody at your age is subject 

By the way, I do desire and insist, that whenever, from 
any indisposition, you are not able to write to me upon the 
fixed days, that Christian shall ; and give me a true account 
how you are. I do not expect from him the Ciceronian 
epistolary style; but I will content myself with the Swiss 
simplicity and truth. 

I hope you extend your acquaintance at Paris, and 
frequent variety of companies; the only way of knowing 
the world : every set of company differs in some particulars 
from another ; and a man of business must, in the course of 
his life, have to do with all sorts. It is a very great advan- 
tage to know the languages of the several countries one 



228 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

travels in; and different companies may, in some degree, 
be considered as different countries : each hath its distinctive 
language, customs, and manners ; know them all, and you 
will wonder at none. 

Adieu, child. Take care of your health ; there are no 
pleasures without it 



LETTER LXVIII. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, March the 5th, O. S. 1752. 

As I have received no letter from you by the usual post, 
I am uneasy upon account of your health ; for, had you 
been well, I am sure you would have written, according to 
your engagement, and my requisition. You have not the 
least notion of any care of your health : but, though I would 
not have you be a valetudinarian, I must tell you, that the 
best and most robust health requires some degree of atten- 
tion to preserve. Young fellows, thinking they have so 
much health and time before them, are very apt to neglect 
or lavish both, and beggar themselves before they are 
aware : whereas a prudent economy in both, would make 
them rich indeed ; and so far from breaking in upon their 
pleasures, would improve and almost perpetuate them. Be 
you wiser ; and, before it is too late, manage both with care 
and frugality; and lay out neither, but upon good interest 
and security. 

I will now confine myself to the employment of your 
time, which, though I have often touched upon formerly, is 
a subject that, from its importance, will bear repetition. 
You have, it is true, a great deal of time before you ; but, 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 229 

in this period of your life, one hour usefully employed may 
be worth more than four-and-twenty hereafter ; a minute is 
precious to you now, whole days may possibly not be so 
forty years hence. Whatever time you allow or can snatch 
for serious reading (I say snatch, because company, and the 
knowledge of the world, is now your chief object), employ 
it in the reading of some one book, and that a good one, 
till you have finished it : and do not distract your mind 
with various matters at the same time. In this light I 
would recommend to you to read toute de suite Grotius de 
Jure Belli et Pacis^ translated by Barbeyrac, and Puflfen- 
dorf's Jus Gentium, translated by the same hand. For 
accidental quarters of hours, read works of invention, wit, 
and humour, of the best, and not of trivial, authors, either 
ancient or modern. 

Whatever business you have, do it the first moment you 
can ; never by halves, but finish it without interruption, if 
possible. Business must not be sauntered and trifled with; 
and you must not say to it, as Felix did to Paul, "at a 
more convenient season I will speak to thee." The most 
convenient season for business is the first ; but study and 
business, in some measure, point out their own times to a 
man of sense; time is much oftener squandered away in 
the wrong choice and improper methods of amusement and 
pleasures. 

Many people think that they are in pleasures, provided 
they are neither in study nor in business. Nothing like it ; 
they are doing nothing, and might just as well be asleep. 
They contract habitudes from laziness, and they only 
frequent those places where they are free from all restraints 
and attentions. Be upon your guard against this idle 
profusion of time : and let every place you go to be either 
the scene of quick and lively pleasures, or the school of 



230 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

your improvements : let every company you go into, either 
gratify your senses, extend your knowledge, or refine your 
manners. Have some decent object of gallantry in view at 
some places ; frequent others, where people of wit and taste 
assemble ; get into others, where people of superior rank 
and dignity command respect and attention from the rest 
of the company; but pray frequent no neutral places, from 
mere idleness and indolence. Nothing forms a young man 
so much as being used to keep respectable and superior 
company, where a constant regard and attention is neces- 
sary. It is true, this is at first a disagreeable state of 
restraint ; but it soon grows habitual, and consequently 
easy ; and you are amply paid for it, by the improvement 
you make, and the credit it gives you. What you said 
some time ago was very true, concerning le Palais Royal ; 
to one of your age the situation is disagreeable enough; 
you cannot expect to be much taken notice of ; but all that 
time you can take notice of others ; observe their manners, 
decipher their characters, and insensibly you will become 
one of the company. 

All this I went through myself, when I was of your age. 
I have sat hours in company, without being taken the least 
notice of; but then I took notice of them, and learned, in 
their company, how to behave myself better in the next, till 
by degrees I became part of the best companies myself. 
But I took great care not to lavish away my time in those 
companies, where there were neither quick pleasures nor 
useful improvements to be expected. 

Sloth, indolence, and mollessc are pernicious and unbe- 
coming a young fellow; let them be your ressource forty 
years hence at soonest. Determine, at all events and 
however disagreeable it may be to you in some respects, 
and for some time, to keep the most distinguished and 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 231 

fashionable company of the place you are at, either for their 
rank, or for their learning, or le bel esprit et le gout. This 
gives you credentials to the best companies, wherever you 
go afterwards. Pray, therefore, no indolence, no laziness ; 
but employ every minute of your life in active pleasures or 
useful employments. Address yourself to some woman ot 
fashion and beauty, wherever you are, and try how far 
that will go. If the place be not secured beforehand, 
and garrisoned, nine times in ten you will take it. By 
attentions and respect, you may always get into the highest 
company; and by some admiration and applause, whether 
merited or not, you may be sure of being welcome among 
Ies savants et ies beaux esprits. There are but these three 
sorts of company for a young fellow; there being neither 
pleasure nor profit in any other. 

My uneasiness with regard to your health, is this moment 
removed by your letter of the 8th, N. S., which, by what 
accident I do not know, I did not receive before. 

I long to read Voltaire's Rome Sauvee> which, by the very 
faults that your severe critics find with it, I am sure I shall 
like ; for I will, at any time, give up a good deal of 
regularity for a great deal of brillant ; and for the brillant^ 
surely nobody is equal to Voltaire. Catiline's conspiracy is 
an unhappy subject for a tragedy; it is too single, and 
gives no opportunity to the poet to excite any of the 
tender passions ; the whole is one intended act of horror. 
Cr^billon was sensible of this defect, and to create another 
interest, most absurdly made Catiline in love with Cicero's 
daughter, and her with him. 

I am very glad you went to Versailles, and dined with 
Monsieur de St. Contest. That is company to learn Ies 
bonnes man&res in; and it seems you had Ies bons morceaux 
into the bargain. Though you were no part of the King 



232 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

of France's conversation with the foreign ministers, and 
probably not much entertained with it ; do you think that 
this is not very useful to you to hear it, and to observe the 
turn and manners of people of that sort ? It is extremely 
useful to know it well. The same in the next rank of 
people, such as ministers of state, etc., in whose company, 
though you cannot yet, at your age, bear a part, and 
consequently be diverted, you will observe and learn, what 
hereafter it may be necessary for you to act. 

Tell Sir John Lambert that I have this day fixed Mr. 
Spencer's having his credit upon him ; Mr. Hoare had also 
recommended him. I believe Mr. Spencer will set out next 
month for some place in France, but not Paris. I am sure 
he wants a great deal of France, for at present he is most 
entirely English ; and you know very well what I think of 
that. And so we bid you heartily good-night. 



LETTER LXIX. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, April the I3th, O. S. 1752. 

I RECEIVED this moment your letter of the igth, N. S., 
with the enclosed pieces relative to the present dispute 
between the King and the Parliament. I shall return them 
by Lord Huntingdon, whom you will soon see at Paris, 
and who will likewise carry you the piece, which I forgot 
in making up the packet I sent you by the Spanish 
Ambassador. The representation of the Parliament is very 
well drawn, suavitir in modo> fortiter in re. They tell the 
King very respectfully, that in a certain case, which they 
should think it criminal to suppose^ they would not obey him 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 233 

This hath a tendency to what we call here revolution 
principles. I do not know what the Lord's anointed, his 
vicegerent upon earth, divinely appointed by him, and 
accountable to none but him for his actions, will either 
think or do, upon these symptoms of reason and good 
sense, which seem to be breaking out all over France ; but 
this I foresee, that before the end of this century, the trade 
of both King and Priest will not be half so good a one as it 
has been. Du Clos, in his reflections, hath observed, and 
very truly, qu'il y a un germe de raison qui commence & se 
developper en France. A developpement that must prove 
fatal to Regal and Papal pretensions. Prudence may, in 
many cases, recommend an occasional submission to either; 
but when that ignorance, upon which an implicit faith in 
both could only be founded, is once removed, God's 
Vicegerent, and Christ's Vicar, will only be obeyed and 
believed, as far as what the one orders, and the other says, 
is conformable to reason and to truth. 

I am very glad (to use a vulgar expression) that you make 
as if you were not well, though you really are ; I am sure it 
is the likeliest way to keep so. Pray leave off entirely your 
greasy, heavy pastry, fat creams, and indigestible dumplings; 
and then you need not confine yourself to white meats, 
which I do not take to be one jot wholesomer than beef, 
mutton, and partridge. 

Voltaire sent me from Berlin his History du Sftcle de 
Louis XIV. It came at a very proper time; Lord 
Bolingbroke had just taught me how History should be 
read; Voltaire shows me how it should be written. I 
am sensible that it will meet with almost as many critica as 
readers. Voltaire must be criticised : besides, every man's 
favourite is attacked; for every prejudice is exposed, and 
our prejudices are our mistresses : reason is at best our 



234 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

wife, very often heard indeed, but seldom minded. It is 
the history of the human understanding, written by a man 
of parts, for the use of men of parts. Weak minds will not 
like it, even though they do not understand it ; which is 
commonly the measure of their admiration. Dull ones will 
want those minute and uninteresting details, with which 
most other histories are encumbered. He tells me all I 
want to know, and nothing more. His reflections are short, 
just, and produce others in his readers. Free from 
religious, philosophical, political, and national prejudices, 
beyond any historian I ever met with, he relates all those 
matters as truly and as impartially as certain regards, which 
must always be to some degree observed, will allow him : 
for one sees plainly, that he often says much less than he 
would say, if he might. He hath made me much better 
acquainted with the times of Lewis XIV. than the innumer- 
able volumes which I had read could do ; and hath sug- 
gested this reflection to me, which I had never made before 
His vanity, not his knowledge, made him encourage all, 
and introduce many arts and sciences in his country. He 
opened in a manner the human understanding in France, 
and brought it to its utmost perfection ; his age equalled in 
all, and greatly exceeded in many things (pardon me, 
pedants !) the Augustan. This was great and rapid ; but 
still it might be done, by the encouragement, the applause, 
and the rewards of a vain, liberal, and magnificent Prince. 
What is much more surprising, is, that he stopped the 
operations of the human mind, just where he pleased ; and 
seemed to say, "thus far shalt thou go, and no farther." 
For, a bigot to his religion, and jealous of his power, free 
and rational thoughts upon either never entered into a 
French head during his reign ; and the greatest geniuses 
that ever any age produced never entertained a doubt of the 



LETTERS TO /fIS SON. 235 

divine right of Kings, or the infallibility of the Church. 
Poets, Orators, and Philosophers, ignorant of their natural 
rights, cherished their chains ; and blind active faith 
triumphed, in those great minds, over silent and passive 
reason. The reverse of this seems now to be the case in 
France : reason opens itself; fancy and invention fade and 
decline. 

I will send you a copy of this history by Lord Hunting- 
don, as I think it very probable that it is not allowed to be 
published and sold at Paris. Pray read it more than once, 
and with attention, particularly the second volume ; which 
contains short but very clear accounts of many very 
interesting things, which are talked of by everybody, though 
fairly understood by very few. There are two very puerile 
affectations, which I wish this book had been free from; 
the one is, the total subversion of all the old-established 
French orthography; the other is, the not making use of 
any one capital letter throughout the whole book, except at 
the beginning of a paragraph. It offends my eyes to see 
rome, paris, france, caesar, henry the 4th, etc., begin with 
small letters ; and I do not conceive that there can be any 
reason for doing it half so strong as the reason of long 
usage is to the contrary. This is an affectation below 
Voltaire ; whom I am not ashamed to say that I admire and 
delight in, as an author, equally in prose and in verse. 

I had a letter, a few days ago, from Monsieur du Boccage; 
in which he says, Monsieur Stanhope Jest jette dans la 
politique, et je crois qtfil y reussira : you do very well, it is 
your destination ; but remember, that, to succeed in great 
things, one must first learn to please in little ones. 
Engaging manners and address must prepare the way for 
superior knowledge and abilities to act with effect. The 
late Duke of Marlborough's manners and address prevailed 



236 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

with the first King of Prussia, to let his troops remain in 
the army of the allies ; when neither their representations, 
nor his own share in the common cause, could do it. The 
Duke of Marlborough had no new matter to urge to him j 
but had a manner, which he could not, and did not, resist. 
Voltaire, among a thousand little delicate strokes of that 
kind, says of the Duke de la Feuillade, qu'il etoit Vhomme It 
plus brillant et k plus aimable du fioyaume, et quoique gendre 
du General et Ministre, il avoit pour lui la faveur publique. 
Various little circumstances of that sort will often make a 
man of great real merit be hated, if he hath not address and 
manners to make him be loved. Consider all your own 
circumstances seriously; and you will find that, of all arts, 
the art of pleasing is the most necessary for you to study 
and possess. A silly tyrant said, oderint modo timeant : 
a wise man would have said, modo ament nihil timendum esi 
mihi. Judge, from your own daily experience, of the 
efficacy of that pleasing je ne sais quoi, when you feel, as 
you and everybody certainly do, that in men it is more 
engaging than knowledge, in women than beauty. 

I long to see Lord and Lady (who are not yet 

arrived), because they have lately seen you ; and I always 
fancy that I can fish out something new concerning you 
from those who have seen you last : not that I shall much 
rely upon their accounts, because I distrust the judgment of 

Lord and Lady , in those matters about which I am 

most inquisitive. They have ruined their own son, by 
what they called and thought loving him. They have made 
him believe that the world was made for him, not he for the 
world ; and unless he stays abroad a great while, and falls 
into very good company, he will expect, what he will never 
find, the attentions and complaisance from others, which 
he has hitherto been used to from Papa and Mamma. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 237 

This, I fear, is too much the case of Mr. - - ; who, I 
doubt, will be run through the body, and be near dying, 
before he knows how to live. However you may turn out, 
you can never make me any of these reproaches. I 
indulged no silly womanish fondness for ^you : instead of 
inflicting my tenderness upon you, I have taken all possible 
methods to make you deserve it ; and thank God you do ; 
at least, I know but one article in which you are different 
from what I could wish you ; and you very well know what 
that is. I want that I and all the world should like you, as 
well as I love you. Adieu. 



LETTER LXX. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, April the soth, O. S. 1752. 

Avoir du monde is, in my opinion, a very just and happy 
expression, for having address, manners, and for knowing 
how to behave properly in all companies ; and it implies, 
very truly, that a man that hath not these accomplish- 
ments is not of the world. Without them, the best parts 
are inefficient, civility is absurd, and freedom offensive. A 
learned parson, rusting in his cell at Oxford or Cambridge, 
will reason admirably well upon the nature of man ; will 
profoundly analyse the head, the heart, the reason, the 
will, the passions, the senses, the sentiments, and all those 
sub-divisions of we know not what ; and yet, unfortunately, 
he knows nothing of man : for he hath not lived with 
him; and is ignorant of all the various modes, habits, 
prejudices, and tastes, that always influence, and often 
determine him. He views man as he does colours in 

18 



238 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Sir Isaac Newton's prism, where only the capital ones are 
seen; tmt an experienced dyer knows all their various 
shades and gradations, together with the result of their 
several mixtures. Few men are of one plain, decided 
colour; most are mixed, shaded, and blended; and vary 
as much, from different situations, as changeable silks do 
from different lights. The man qui a du monde knows 
all this from his own experience and observation : the 
conceited, cloistered philosopher knows nothing of it from 
his own theory; his practice is absurd and improper; 
and he acts as awkwardly as a man would dance, who 
had never seen others dance, nor learned of a dancing- 
master; but who had only studied the notes by which 
dances are now pricked down, as well as tunes. Observe 
and imitate, then, the address, the arts, and the manners 
of those qui out du monde; see by what methods they 
first make, and afterwards improve, impressions in their 
favour. Those impressions are much -oftener owing to 
little causes, than to intrinsic merit ; wnich is less volatile, 
and hath not so sudden an effect. Strong minds have 
undoubtedly an ascendant over weak ones, as Galigai 
Marechale d'Ancre very justly observed, when, to the 
disgrace and reproach of those times, she was executed 
for having governed Mary of Medicis by the arts of witch- 
craft and magic. But the ascendant is to be gained by 
degrees, and by those arts only which experience and the 
knowledge ot the world teaches : for few are mean enough 
to be bullied, though most are weak enough to be bubbled. 
I have often seen people of superior governed by people 
of much inferior parts, without knowing or even suspecting 
that they were so governed. This can only happen, when 
those people of inferior parts have more worldly dexterity 
and experience than those they govern. They see the 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 239 

weak and unguarded part, and apply to it : they take it, 
and all the rest follows. Would you gain either men or 
women, and every man of sense desires to gain both, // 
faut du monde. You have had more opportunities than 
ever any man had, at your age, of acquiring ce monde ; 
you have been in the best companies of most countries, 
at an age when others have hardly been in any company 
at all. You are master of all those languages, which John 
Trott seldom speaks at all, and never well; consequently 
you need be a stranger nowhere. This is the way, and 
the only way, of having du monde ; but if you have it not, 
and have still any coarse rusticity about you, may one 
not apply to you the rusticus expectat of Horace ? 

This knowledge of the world teaches us more particularly 
two things, both which are of infinite consequence, and to 
neither of which nature inclines us ; I mean, the command 
of our temper and of our countenance. A man who has 
no monde is inflamed with anger, or annihilated with shame, 
at every disagreeable incident : the one makes him act and 
talk like a madman, the other makes him look like a fool. 
But a man who has du monde seems not to understand 
what he cannot or ought not to resent. If he makes a 
slip himself, he recovers it by his coolness, instead of 
plunging deeper by his confusion, like a stumbling horse. 
He is firm, but gentle; and practises that most excellent 
maxim, suaviferin modo } fortitir in re. The other is the 
volto stiolto e pensieri stretti. People unused to the world 
have babbling countenances ; and are unskilful enough to 
show what they have sense enough not to tell. In the 
course of the world, a man must very often put on an 
easy, frank countenance upon very disagreeable occasions ; 
he must seem pleased when he is very much otherwise; 
he must be able to accost, and receive with smiles, those 



240 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

whom he would much rather meet with swords. In Courts 
he must not turn himself inside out. All this may, nay 
must, be done without falsehood and treachery : for it 
must go no further than politeness and manners, and 
must stop short of assurances and professions of simulated 
friendship. Good manners, to those one does not love, 
are no more a breach of truth than "your humble servant" 
at the bottom of a challenge is ; they are universally 
agreed upon, and understood, to be things of course. 
They are necessary guards of the decency and peace of 
society : they must only act defensively ; and then not 
with arms poisoned with perfidy. Truth, but not the 
whole truth, must be the invariable principle of every 
man, who hath either religion, honour, or prudence. 
Those who violate it may be cunning, but they are not 
able. Lies and perfidy are the refuge of fools and cowards. 
Adieu ! 

P.S. I must recommend to you again, to take your 
leave of all your French acquaintance, in such a manner 
as may make them regret your departure, and wish to see 
and welcome you at Paris again ; where you may possibly 
return before it is very long. This must not be done in 
a cold, civil manner, but with, at least, seeming warmth, 
sentiment, and concern. Acknowledge the obligations you 
have to them, for the kindness they have shown you 
during your stay at Paris ; assure them, that, wherever 
you are, you shall remember them with gratitude; wish 
for opportunities of giving them proofs of your plus tendre 
et respectueux souvenir ; beg of them, in case your good 
fortune should carry you to any part of the world where 
you could be of any the least use to them, that they would 
employ you without reserve. Say all this, and a great deal 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 241 

more, emphatically and pathetically; for you know si vis 
me flere. This can do you no harm, if you never return 
to Paris ; but if you do, as probably you may, it will be 
of infinite use to you. Remember, too, not to omit going 
to every house where you have ever been once, to take 
leave, and recommend yourself to their remembrance. 
The reputation which you leave at one place, where you 
have been, will circulate, and you will meet with it at 
twenty places, where you are to go. That is a labour 
never quite lost. 

This letter will show you, that the accident which 
happened to me yesterday, and of which Dr. Grevenkop 
gives you an account, hath had no bad consequences. 
My escape was a great one. 



LETTER LXXI. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, May the nth, O. S. 1752. 

I BREAK my word by writing this letter ; but I break 
it on the allowable side, by doing more than I promised 
I have pleasure in writing to you ; and you may possibly 
have some profit in reading what I write ; either of the 
motives were sufficient for me, both I cannot withstand. 
By your last, I calculate that you will leave Paris this 
day se'nnight; upon that supposition, this letter may still 
find you there. 

Colonel Perry arrived here two or three days ago, and 
sent me a book from you, Cassandra abridged. I am 
sure it cannot be too much abridged. The spirit of that 
most voluminous work, fairly extracted, may be contained 



242 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

in the smallest duodecimo ; and it is most astonishing that 
there ever could have been people idle enough to write 
or read such endless heaps of the same stuff. It was, 
however, the occupation of thousands in the last century ; 
and is still the private, though disavowed, amusement o{ 
young girls and sentimental ladies. A lovesick girl finds, 
in the Captain with whom she is in love, all the courage 
and all the graces of the tender and accomplished Oroon- 
dates; and many a grown-up, sentimental lady, talks 
delicate Clelia to the hero, whom she would engage to 
eternal love, or laments with her that love is not eternal. 

" Ah ! qu'il est doux d'aimer, si Ton aimoit toujours ! 
Mais, helas ! il n'est point d'eternelles amours."* 

It is, however, very well to have read one of those 
extravagant works (of all which La Calprenede's are the 
best) because it is well to be able to talk, with some degree 
of knowledge, upon all those subjects that other people 
talk sometimes upon; and I would by no means have 
anything, that is known to others, be totally unknown to 
you. It is a great advantage for any man to be able to 
talk or to hear, neither ignorantly nor absurdly, upon any 
subject; for I have known people, who have not said 
one word, hear ignorantly and absurdly; it has appeared 
in their inattentive and unmeaning faces. 

This, I think, is as little likely to happen to you, as 
to anybody of your age ; and if you will but add a 
versatility, and easy conformity of manners, I know no 
company in which you are likely to be de trop. 

This versatility is more particularly necessary for you 

* " Ah ! how sweet it were to love if one loved always ! 
But, alas ! there are no everlasting attachments." 



LETTERS TO HIS. SON. 243 

at this time, now that you are going to so many different 
places ; for though the manners and customs of the several 
Courts of Germany are in general the same, yet every 
one has its particular characteristic ; some peculiarity or 
other which distinguishes it from the next. This you 
should carefully attend to, and immediately adopt. Nothing 
flatters people more, nor makes strangers so welcome, as 
such an occasional conformity. I do not mean by this, 
that you should mimic the air and stiffness of every 
awkward German Court; no, by no means; but I mean 
that you should only cheerfully comply and fall in with 
certain local habits, such as ceremonies, diet, turn of con- 
versation, etc. People who are lately come from Paris, and 
who have been a good while there, are generally suspected, 
and especially in Germany, of having a degree of contempt 
for every other place. Take great care that nothing of 
this kind appear, at least outwardly, in your behaviour: 
but commend whatever deserves any degree of commenda- 
tion, without comparing it with what you may have left, 
much better, of the same kind at Paris. As, for instance, 
the German kitchen is, without doubt, execrable, and the 
French delicious, however, never commend the French 
kitchen at a German table ; but eat of what you can find 
tolerable there, and commend it, without comparing it to 
anything better. I have known many British Yahoos, who, 
though while they were at Paris conformed to no one 
French custom, as soon as they got anywhere else, talked 
of nothing but what they did, saw, and ate at Paris. The 
freedom of the French is not to be used indiscrimin- 
ately at all the Courts in Germany, though their easiness 
may, and ought; but that, too, at some places more than 
others. The Courts of Mannheim and Bonn, I take to 
be a little more unbarbarised than some others; that of 



244 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

Mai'ence, an ecclesiastical one, as well as that of Treves 
(neither of which is much frequented by foreigners), retains, 
I conceive, a great deal of the Goth and Vandal still. 
There, more reserve and ceremony are necessary; and 
not a word of the French. At Berlin, you cannot be too 
French. Hanover, Brunswick, Cassel, etc., are of the 
mixed kind, un peu d'ecrottes> mats pas assez. 

Another thing, which I most earnestly recommend to you, 
not only in Germany, but in every part of the world, where 
you may ever be, is, not only real, but seeming attention, to 
whomever you speak to, or to whoever speaks to you. 
There is nothing so brutally shocking, nor so little forgiven, 
as a seeming inattention to the person who is speaking to 
you; and I have known many a man knocked down, for 
(in my opinion) a much slighter provocation, than that 
shocking inattention which I mean. I have seen many 
people, who while you are speaking to them, instead of 
looking at, and attending to, you, fix their eyes upon the 
ceiling, or some other part of the room, look out of the 
window, play with a dog, twirl their snuff-box, or pick their 
nose. Nothing discovers a little, futile, frivolous mind more 
than this, and nothing is so offensively ill bred : it is an 
explicit declaration on your part, that every, the most 
trifling object, deserves your attention more than all that 
can be said by the person who is speaking to you. Judge 
of the sentiments of hatred and resentment, which such 
treatment must excite, in every breast where any degree 
of self-love dwells; and I am sure, I never yet met with 
that breast where there was not a great deal. I repeat it 
again and again (for it is highly necessary for you to 
remember it), that sort of vanity and self-love is inseparable 
from human nature, whatever may be its rank or condition ; 
even your footman will sooner forget and forgive a beating, 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 245 

than any manifest mark of slight and contempt. Be 
therefore, I beg of you, not only really, but seemingly 
and manifestly, attentive to whoever speaks to you ; nay 
more, take their tone, and tune yourself to their unison. 
Be serious with the serious, gay with the gay, and trifle 
with the triflers. In assuming these various shapes, endea- 
vour to make each of them seem to sit easy upon you, 
and even to appear to be your own natural one. This is 
the true and useful versatility of which a thorough know- 
ledge of the world at once teaches the utility, and the 
means of acquiring. 

I am very sure, at least I hope, that you will never 
make use of a silly expression, which is the favourite 
expression, and the absurd excuse of all fools and block- 
heads; / cannot do such a thing, a thing by no means 
either morally or physically impossible. I cannot attend 
long together to the same thing, says one fool : that is, 
he is such a fool that he will not. I remember a very 
awkward fellow, who did not know what to do with his 
sword, and who always took it off before dinner, saying, 
that he could not possibly dine with his sword on ; upon 
which I could not help telling him that I really believed 
he could, without any probable danger either to himself 
or others. It is a shame and an absurdity, for any man 
to say, that he cannot do all those things which are 
commonly done by all the rest of mankind. 

Another thing, that I must earnestly warn you against, 
is laziness; by which more people have lost the fruit of 
their travels, than (perhaps) by any other thing. Pray 
be always in motion. Early in the morning go and see 
things; and the rest of the day go and see people. If 
you stay but a week at a place, and that an insignificant 
one, see, however, all that is to be seen there ; know as 



246 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

many people, and get into as many houses, as ever you 
can. 

I recommend to you likewise, though probably you have 
thought of it yourself, to carry in your pocket a map of 
Germany, in which the post roads are marked ; and also 
some short book of travels through Germany. The former 
will help to imprint in your memory situations and dis- 
tances ; and the latter will point out many things for you 
to see, that might otherwise possibly escape you; and 
which, though they may in themselves be of little 
consequence, you would regret not having seen, after 
having been at the places where they were. 

Thus warned and provided for your journey, God speed 
you; Felix faustumque sit! Adieu. 



LETTER LXXII. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, May the 3ist, O. S. 1752. 

THE world is the book, and the only one to which, at 
present, I would have you apply yourself ; and the thorough 
knowledge of it will be of more use to you than all the 
books that ever were read. Lay aside the best book 
whenever you can go into the best company ; and depend 
upon it you change for the better. However, as the most 
tumultuous life, whether of business or pleasure, leaves 
some vacant moments every day, in which a book is the 
refuge of a rational being, I mean now to point out to you 
the method of employing those moments (which will and 
ought to be but few) in the most Advantageous manner. 
Throw away none of your time upon those trivial futile 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 24? 

books, published by idle or necessitous authors, for the 
amusement of idle and ignorant readers : such sort of books 
swarm and buzz about one every day ; flap them away, they 
have no sting. Cerium pete finem, have some one object 
for those leisure moments, and pursue that object invariably 
till you have attained it ; and then take some other. For 
instance ; considering your destination, I would advise you 
to single out the most remarkable and interesting aeras of 
modern history, and confine all your reading to that s&ra 
If you pitch upon the Treaty of Munster (and that is the 
proper period to begin with, in the course which I am now 
recommending), do not interrupt it by dipping and deviating 
into other books, unrelative to it : but consult only the most 
authentic histories, letters, memoirs, and negotiations rela- 
tive to that great transaction ; reading and comparing them, 
with all that caution and distrust which Lord Bolingbroke 
recommends to you, in a better manner and in better words 
than I can. The next period, worth your particular know- 
ledge, is the Treaty of the Pyrenees ; which was calculated 
to lay, and in effect did lay, the foundation of the succession 
of the House of Bourbon to the Crown of Spain. Pursue 
that in the same manner, singling, out of the millions of 
volumes written upon that occasion, the two or three most 
authentic ones ; and particularly letters, which are the best 
authorities in matters of negotiation. Next come the 
Treaties of Nimeguen and Ryswick, postscripts in a man- 
ner to those of Munster and the Pyrenees. Those two 
transactions have had great light thrown upon them by 
the publication of many authentic and original letters and 
pieces. The concessions made at the Treaty of Ryswick, by 
the then triumphant Lewis the Fourteenth, astonished all 
those who viewed things only superficially ; but, I should 
think, must have been easily accounted for by those who 



248 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

knew the state of the kingdom of Spain, as well as of the 
health of its King, Charles the Second, at that time. The 
interval between the conclusion of the peace of Ryswick, 
and the breaking out of the great war in 170;, though a 
short, is a most interesting one. Every week of it almost 
produced some great event. Two Partition Treaties, the 
deaih of the King of Spain, his unexpected Will, and the 
acceptance of it by Lewis the Fourteenth, in violation of 
the second treaty of partition, just signed and ratified by 
him. Philip the Fifth, quietly and cheerfully received in 
Spain, and acknowledged as King of it, by most of those 
Powers, who afterwards joined in an alliance to dethrone 
him. I cannot help making this observation upon that 
occasion; That character has often more to do in great 
transactions, than prudence and sound policy : for Lewis 
the Fourteenth gratified his personal pride, by giving a 
Bourbon King to Spain, at the expense of the true interest 
of France ; which would have acquired much more solid 
and permanent strength by the addition of Naples, Sicily, 
and Lorraine, upon the foot of the second Partition Treaty ; 
and I think it was fortunate for Europe that he preferred 
the Will. It is true, he might hope to influence his grand- 
son ; but he could never expect that his Bourbon posterity 
in France should influence his Bourbon posterity in Spain \ 
*>'" he knew too well how weak the ties of blood are among 
men, and how much weaker still they are among Princes. 
The Memoirs of Count Harrach, and of Las Torres, give a 
good deal of light into the transactions of the Court of Spain, 
previous to the death of that weak King; and the letters 
of the Marechal d'Harcourt, then the French Ambassador 
in Spain, of which I have authentic copies in manuscript, 
from the year 1698 to 1701, have cleared up that whole 
affair to me. I keep that book for you. It appears by 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 249 

those letters, that the imprudent conduct of the House of 
Austria, with regard to the King and Queen of Spain, and 
Madame Berlips, her favourite, together with the knowledge 
of the Partition Treaty, which incensed all Spain, were the 
true and only reasons of the Will in favour of the Duke of 
Anjou. Cardinal Portocarrero, nor any of the Grandees, 
were bribed by France, as was generally reported and 
believed at that time ; which confirms Voltaire's anecdote 
upon that subject. Then opens a new scene and a new 
century : Lewis the Fourteenth's good fortune forsakes him, 
till the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene make him 
amends for all the mischief they had done him, by mak- 
ing the allies refuse the terms of peace offered by him 
at Gertruydenberg. How the disadvantageous peace of 
Utrecht was afterwards brought on, you have lately read; 
and you cannot inform yourself too minutely of all those 
circumstances, that treaty being the freshest source, from 
whence the late transactions of Europe have flowed. The 
alterations which have since happened, whether by wars or 
treaties, are so recent, that all the written accounts are to be 
helped out, proved, or contradicted, by the oral ones of 
almost every informed person of a certain age or rank in 
life. For the facts, dates, and original pieces of this century, 
you will find them in Lamberti, till the year 1715, and after 
that time in Rousset's Rccueil. 

I do not mean that you should plod hours together in 
researches of this kind; no, you may employ your time 
more usefully ; but I mean that you should make the most 
of the moments you do employ, by method, and the pursuit 
of one single object at a time ; nor should I call it a digres- 
sion from that object, if, when you meet with clashing and 
jarring pretensions of different Princes to the same thing, 
you had immediate recourse to other books, in which those 



2 5 o LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

several pretensions were clearly stated ; on the contrary, that 
is the only way of remembering those contested rights and 
claims : for, were a man to read tout de suite^ Schwederus's 
Thcatrum Pretensionum^ he would only be confounded by 
the variety, and remember none of them; whereas, by 
examining them occasionally, as they happen to occur, 
either in the course of your historical reading, or as they 
are agitated in your own times, you will retain them, by 
connecting them with those historical facts which occasioned 
your inquiry. For example ; had you read, in the course of 
two or three folios of Pretensions, those, among others, of 
the two Kings of England and Prussia to Oost Frise, it is 
impossible that you should have remembered them; but 
now that they are become the debated object at the Diet at 
Ratisbon, and the topic of all political conversations, if you 
consult both books and persons concerning them, and 
inform yourself thoroughly, you will never forget them as 
long as you live. You will hear a great deal of them on 
one side, at Hanover ; and as much on the other side, 
afterwards, at Berlin : hear both sides, and form your own 
opinion ; but dispute with neither. 

Letters from foreign Ministers to their Courts, and from 
their Courts to them, are, if genuine, the best and most 
authentic records you can read, as far as they go. Cardinal 
D'Ossat's, President Jeannin's, D'Estrade's, Sir William 
Temple's, will not only inform your mind, but form your 
style ; which, in letters of business, should be very plain and 
simple, but at the same time, exceedingly clear, correct, 
and pure. 

All that I have said may be reduced to these two or three 
plain principles : isi, That you should now read very little, 
but converse a great deal; 2ndly, To read no useless, 
unprofitable books; and 3rdly, That those which you do 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 251 

read, may all tend to a certain object, and be relative to, 
and consequential of, each other. In this method, half-an- 
hour's reading, every day, will carry you a great way. 
People seldom know how to employ their time to the best 
advantage, till they have too little left to employ ; but if, at 
your age, in the beginning of life, people would but consider 
the value of it, and put every moment to interest, it is 
incredible what an additional fund of knowledge and 
pleasure such n economy would bring in. I look back 
with regret upon that large sum of time, which, in my 
youth, I lavished away idly, without either improvement or 
pleasure. Take warning betimes, and enjoy every moment ; 
pleasures do not commonly last so long as life, and therefore 
should not be neglected ; and the longest life is too short 
for knowledge, consequently every moment is precious. 

I am surprised at having received no letter from you since 
you left Paris. I still direct this to Strasburg, as I did 
my two last. I shall direct my next to the post-house 
at Mai'ence, unless I receive, in the meantime, contrary 
instructions from you. Adieu ! Remember les attentions: 
they must be your passports into good company. 



LETTER LXXIII. 
A Monsieur de Voltaire pour lors a Berlin. 

MONSIEUR, A Londres, 27 d'Aoflt, V. S. 1752. 

JE m'inte*resse infiniment a tout ce qui touche Monsieur 
Stanhope, qui aura 1'honneur de vous rendre cette lettre ; 
c'est pourquoi je prens la liberte* de vous le presenter ; je 
ne peux pas lui en donner une preuve plus convainquante. 
II a beaucoup lu, il a beaucoup vu; s'il 1'a bien dige're', 



252 LORD CHESTERFIELDS 

voila ce que je ne sais pas ; il n'a que vmgt aas. II a deja 
dte a Berlin il y a quelques anne'es, et c'est pourquoi il y 
retourne a present ; car a cette heure on revient ail Nord 
par les merries raisons, pour lesquelles on alloit il n'y a pas 
long terns au Sud. 

Permettez, Monsieur, que je vous remercie du plaisir el 
de 1'instruction que m'a donne votre Histoire du Siecle de 
Louis XIV. Je ne 1'ai lu encore que quatre fois, c'est que 
je voudrois 1'oublier un peu avant la cinquieme, mais je 
vois que cela m'est impossible ; j'attendrai done 1'augmen- 
tation que vous nous en avez promis, mais je vous supplie 
de ne me la pas faire attendre long terns. Je croyois savoir 
passablement 1'Histoire du Siecle de Louis XIV. moyen- 
nant les milliers d'Histoires, de Memoires, d' Anecdotes, 
etc., que j'en avois lu, mais vous m'avez bien montre* que je 
m'e"tois trompe, et que je n'en avois qu'une ide*e tres-confuse 
a bien des dgards, et tres-fausse a bien d'autres. Que je vous 
sais gre' sur tout, Monsieur, du jour dans lequel vous avez 
mis les folies et les fureurs des sectes. Vous employez 
centre ces fous ou ces imposteurs les armes convenables; 
d'en employer d'autres ce seroit les imiter: c'est par le 
ridicule qu'il faut les attaquer, c'est par le me'pris qu'il faul 
les punir. A propos de ces fous, je vous envoie ci-jointe 
une piece sur leur sujet par le feu Docteur Swift, laquelle je 
crois ne vous ddplaira pas. Elle n'a jamais e*te imprime'e, 
vous en devinerez bien la raison, mais elle est authentique. 
J'en ai 1'original dent de sa propre main. Son Jupiter, au 
jour du jugement, les traite a peu pres comme vous les 
traiteX et comme ils le me'ritent. 

Au reste, Monsieur, je vous dirai franchement, que je 
suis embarrasse* sur votre sujet, et que je ne peux pas me 
decider sur ce que je souhaiterois de votre part. Quand 
je lis votre dernie^e histoire, je voudrois que vous fussiez 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 253 

toujotirs historien ; mais quand je lis votre Rome Sauvee 
(toute mal imprimee ct deTigure'e qu'elle est) je vous 
voudrois toujours Poete. J'avoue pourtant qu'il vous reste 
encore une histoire & ecrire digne de votre plume, et dont 
votre plume est seule digne. Vous nous avez donnd il y 
a long terns Phistoire du plus grand Furieux (je vous 
demande pardon si je ne peus pas dire du plus grand 
He'ros) de 1'Europe. Vous nous avez donne" en dernier 
lieu, Phistoire du plus grand Roi ; donnez-nous, a present, 
Thistoire du plus grand et du plus honnete Homme de 
1'Europe, que je croirois ddgrader en appellant Roi. 
Vous 1'avez toujours devant vos yeux, rien ne vous seroit 
plus facile; sa gloire n'exigeant pas votre invention 
poetique, mais pouvant se reposer en toute suretd sur votre 
ve'rite' historique. II n'a rien a demander a son historien, 
que son premier devoir comme historien, qui est, JVe quid 
falsi dicere audeat, ne quid veri non audeat. Adieu, Monsieur, 
je vois bien que je dois vous admirer de plus en plus tous 
les jours, mais aussi je sais bien que rien ne pourra jamais 
ajouter a 1'estime et a 1'attachement avec lesquels je suis 
actuellement, 

Votre tres-humble et tres-obdissant serviteur, 

CHESTERFIELD. 



LETTER LXXIV. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, September the 29th, 1752. 

THERE is nothing so necessary, but at the same time 
there is nothing more difficult (I know it by experience), for 
you young fellows, than to know how to behave yourselves 
prudently towards those whom you do not like. Your 

19 



254 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

passions are warm, and your heads are light ; you hate all 
those who oppose your views, either of ambition or love ; 
and a rival in either is almost a synonymous term for 
an enemy. Whcnerer you meet such a man, you are 
awkwardly cold to him, at best ; but often rude, and always 
desirous to give him some indirect slap. This is unreason- 
able; for one man has as good a right to pursue an 
employment, or a mistress, as another ; but it is, into the 
bargain, extremely imprudent ; because you commonly 
defeat your own purpose by it, and while you are con- 
tending with each other a third often prevails. I grant you, 
that the situation is irksome ; a man cannot help thinking 
as he thinks, nor feeling what he feels ; and it is a very 
tender and sore point to be thwarted and counter-worked 
in one's pursuits at Court, or with a mistress : but prudence 
and abilities must check the effects, though they cannot 
remove the cause. Both the pretenders make themselves 
disagreeable to their mistress, when they spoil the company 
by their pouting, or their sparring ; whereas, if one of them 
has command enough over himself (whatever he may feel 
inwardly) to be cheerful, gay, and easily and unaffectedly 
civil to the other, as if there were no manner of com- 
petition between them, the Lady will certainly like him the 
best, and his rival will be ten times more humbled and 
discouraged ; for he will look upon such a behaviour as a 
proof of the triumph and security of his rival ; he will grow 
outrageous with the Lady, and the warmth of his reproaches 
will probably bring on a quarrel between them. It is the 
same in business ; where he who can command his temper 
and his countenance the best, will always have an infinite 
advantage over the other. This is what the French call un 
precede honntti et galant, to pique yourself upon showing 
particular civilities to a man, to whom lesser minds would 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 255 

in the same case show dislike, or perhaps rudeness. I will 
give you an instance of this in my own case ; and pray 
remember it, whenever you come to be, as I hope you will, 
in a like situation. 

When I went to the Hague, in 1744, it was to engage the 
Dutch to come roundly into the war, and to stipulate their 
quotas of troops, etc. ; your acquaintance, the Abbd de la 
Ville, was there on the part of France, to endeavour to 
hinder them from coming into the war at all. I was 
informed, and very sorry to hear it, that he had abilities, 
temper, and industry. We could not visit, our two masters 
being at war ; but the first time I met him at a third place, 
I got somebody to present me to him ; and I told him, that 
though we were to be national enemies, I flattered myself 
we might be, however, personal friends ; with a good deal 
more of the same kind ; which he returned in full as polite 
a manner. Two days afterwards I went, early in the morn- 
ing, to solicit the Deputies of Amsterdam, where I found 
TAbbe* de la Ville, who had been beforehand with me; 
upon which I addressed myself to the Deputies, and said, 
smilingly, Je suis Men fache^ Messieurs^ de trouver mon 
Ennemi avec vous ; je le connois deja assez pour le craindre : 
la partie riest pas egale, mats je me fie b vos propres interets 
contre les talens de mon Ennemi; et au mains si je n'at pas 
eu le premier mot, faurai le dernier aujouid'hui. They 
smiled : the Abbd was pleased with the compliment, and 
the manner of it, stayed about a quarter of an hour, and 
then left me to my Deputies, with whom I continued upon 
the same tone, though in a very serious manner, and told 
them that I was only come to state their own true interests 
to them, plainly and simply, without any of those arts which 
it was very necessary for my friend to make use of to 
deceive them. I carried my point, and continued my 



256 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

procede with the Abb< ; and by this easy and polite com- 
merce with him, at third places, I often found means to fish 
out from him whereabouts he was. 

Remember, there are but two precedes in the world for a 
gentleman and a man of parts : either extreme politeness, 
or knocking down. If a man notoriously and designedly 
insults and affronts you, knock him down ; but if he only 
injures you, your best revenge is to be extremely civil to 
him in your outward behaviour, though at the same time 
you counterwork him, and return him the compliment, 
perhaps with interest. This is not perfidy nor dissimula- 
tion : it would be so if you were at the same time to make 
professions of esteem and friendship to this man, which I 
by no means recommend, but, on the contrary, abhor. All 
acts of civility are, by common consent, understood to be 
no more than a conformity to custom, for the quiet and 
convenience of society, the agremens of which are not to be 
disturbed by private dislikes and jealousies. Only women 
and little minds pout and spar for the entertainment of the 
company that always laughs at, and never pities them. For 
my own part, though I would by no means give up any 
point to a competitor, yet I would pique myself upon 
showing him rather more civility than to another man. In 
the first place, this precede infallibly makes all les rieurs of 
your side, which is a considerable party ; and in the next 
place, it certainly pleases the object of the competition, be 
it either man or woman ; who never fail to say, upon such 
an occasion, that they must own you have behaved yourself 
very handsomely in the whole affair. The world judges from 
the appearances of things, and not from the reality, which 
few are able, and still fewer are inclined, to fathom ; and a 
man, who will take care always to be in the right in those 
things, may afford to be sometimes a little in the wrong in 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 257 

more essential ones : there is a willingness, a desire to 
excuse him. With nine people in ten good breeding passes 
for good nature, and they take attentions for good offices. 
At Courts there will be always coldnesses, dislikes, 
jealousies, and hatred ; the harvest being but small in pro- 
portion to the number of labourers ; but then, as they arise 
often, they die soon, unless they are perpetuated by the 
manner in which they have been carried on more than by 
the matter which occasioned them. The turns and vicis- 
situdes of Courts frequently make friends of enemies, and 
enemies of friends : you must labour, therefore, to acquire 
that great and uncommon talent, of hating with good 
breeding, and loving with prudence ; to make no quarrel 
irreconcilable, by silly and unnecessary indications of anger ; 
and no friendship dangerous, in case it breaks, by a wanton, 
indiscreet, and unreserved confidence. 

Few (especially young) people know how to love, or how 
to hate ; their love is an unbounded weakness, fatal to the 
person they love ; their hate is a hot, rash, and imprudent 
violence, always fatal to themselves. Nineteen fathers in 
twenty, and every mother, who had loved you half as 
well as I do, would have ruined you ; whereas I always 
made you feel the weight of my authority, that you might 
one day know the force of my love. Now, I both hope 
and believe my advice will have the same weight with you 
from choice, that my authority had from necessity. My 
advice is just eight-and-thirty years older than your own, 
aad consequently, I believe you think ; rather better. As 
for your tender and pleasurable passions, manage them 
yourself; but let me have the direction of all the others. 
Your ambition, your figure, and your fortune will, for some 
time at least, be rather safer in my keeping than in your 
own. Adieu. 



LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER LXXV. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, May the 2;th, O. S. 1753. 

I HAVE this day been tired, jaded, nay, tormented, by 
the company of a most worthy, sensible, and learned man, 
a near relation of mine, who dined and passed the evening 
with me. This seems a paradox, but is a plain truth ; he 
has no knowledge of the world, no manners, no address ; 
far from talking without book, as is commonly said of 
people who talk sillily, he only talks by book ; which, in 
general conversation, is ten times worse. He has formed 
in his own closet, from books, certain systems of every- 
thing, argues tenaciously upon those principles, and is both 
surprised and angry at whatever deviates from them. His 
theories are good, but, unfortunately, are all impracticable. 
Why ? Because he has only read, and not conversed, jle 
is acquainted with books, and an absolute stranger to men. 
Labouring with his matter, he is delivered of it with pangs ; 
he hesitates, stops in his utterance, and always expresses 
himself inelegantly. His actions are all ungraceful ; so 
that, with all his merit and knowledge, I would rather 
converse six hours with the most frivolous tittle-tattle 
woman, who knew something of the world, than with him. 
The preposterous notions of a systematical man, who does 
not know the world, tire the patience of a man who does. 
It would be endless to correct his mistakes, nor would he 
take it kindly; for he has considered everything deliber- 
ately, and is very sure that he is in the right. Impropriety 
is a characteristic, and a never-failing one, of these people. 
Regardless, because ignorant, of custom and manners, they 
violate them every moment. They often shock, though 
they never mean to offend ; never attending either to the 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 259 

general character, or the particular distinguishing circum- 
stances of the people to whom, or before whom, they talk : 
whereas the knowledge of the world teaches one that the 
very same things which are exceedingly right and proper in 
one company, time, and place, are exceedingly absurd in 
others. In short, a man who has great knowledge, from 
experience and observation of the characters, customs, and 
manners of mankind, is a being as different from, and as 
superior to, a man of mere book and systematical know- 
ledge, as a well-managed horse is to an ass. Study there- 
fore, cultivate, and frequent, men and women; not only in 
theTf "outward, and consequently guarded, but in their 
interior, domestic, and consequently less disguised, char- 
acters, and manners. Take your notions of things, as by 
observation and experience you find they really are, and 
not as you read that they are or should be ; for they never 
are quite what they should be. For this purpose do not 
content yourself with general and common acquaintance ; 
but, wherever you can, establish yourself, with a kind of 
domestic familiarity, in good houses. For instance; go again 
to Orli for two or three days, and so at two or three reprises. 
Go and stay two or three days at a time at Versailles, and 
improve and extend the acquaintance you have there. Be 
at home at St. Cloud ; and whenever any private person of 
fashion invites you to pass a few days at his country-house, 
accept of the invitation. This will necessarily give you a 
versatility of mind, and a facility to adopt various manners 
and customs; for everybody desires to please those in 
whose house they are ; and people are only to be pleased 
in their own way. Nothing is more engaging than a cheer- 
ful and easy conformity to people's particular manners, 
habits, and even weaknesses ; nothing (to use a vulgar 
expression) should come amiss to a young fellow. He 



260 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

should be, for good purposes, what Alcibiades was com- 
monly for bad ones, a Proteus, assuming with ease, and 
wearing with cheerfulness, any shape. Heat, cold, luxury, 
abstinence, gravity, gaiety, ceremony, easiness, learning, 
trifling, business, and pleasure, are modes which he should 
be able to take, lay aside, or change occasionally, with as 
much ease as he would take or lay aside his hat. All this 
is only to be acquired by use and knowledge of the world, 
by keeping a great deal of company, analysing every 
character, and insinuating yourself into the familiarity of 
various acquaintance. A right, a generous ambition to 
make a figure in the world, necessarily gives the desire of 
pleasing; the desire of pleasing points out, to a great 
degree, the means of doing it ; and the art of pleasing is, 
in truth, the art of rising, of distinguishing one's self, of 
making a figure and a fortune in the world. But without 
pleasing, without the Graces, as I have told you a thousand 
times, ogni fatica i vana. You are now but nineteen, an 
age at which most of your countrymen are illiberally getting 
drunk in Port, at the University. You have greatly got the 
start of them in learning ; and if you can equally get the 
start of them in the knowledge and manners of the world, 
you may be very sure of outrunning them in Court and 
Parliament, as you set out so much earlier than they. They 
generally begin but to see the world at one-and-twenty ; 
you will by that age have seen all Europe. They set out 
upon their travels unlicked cubs ; and in their travels they 
only lick one another, for they seldom go into any other 
company. They know nothing but the English world, and 
the worst part of that too, and generally very little of any 
but the English language ; and they come home, at three or 
four-and-twenty, refined and polished (as is said in one of 
Congreve's plays) like Dutch skippers from a whale-fishing 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 261 

The care which has been taken of you, and (to do you 
justice) the care you have taken of yourself, has left you, at 
the age of nineteen only, nothing to acquire but the know- 
ledge of the world, manners, address, and those exterior 
accomplishments. But they are great and necessary acqui- 
sitions to those who have sense enough to know their true 
value ; and your getting them before you are one-and-twenty, 
and before you enter upon the active and shining scene of 
life, will give you such an advantage over all your contem- 
poraries, that they cannot overtake you; they must be 
distanced. You may probably be placed about a young 
Prince, who will probably be a young King. There all the 
various arts of pleasing, the engaging address, the versatility 
of manners, the brillant, the Graces, will outweigh and yet 
outrun all solid knowledge and unpolished merit. Oil 
yourself therefore, and be both supple and shining for that 
race, if you would be first, or early, at the goal. Ladies 
will most probably, too, have something to say there ; and 
those who are best with them, will probably be best some- 
where else. Labour this great point, my dear child, inde- 
fatigably ; attend to the very smallest parts, the minutest 
graces, the most trifling circumstances, that can possibly 
concur in forming the shining character of a complete 
Gentleman, un galant homme, un homme de Cour, a man 
of business and pleasure ; estime des hommes^ recherche des 
femmes, aime de tout !e monde. In this view observe the 
shining part of every man of fashion, who is liked and 
esteemed ; attend to, and imitate that particular accom- 
plishment for which you hear him chiefly celebrated and 
distinguished ; then collect those various parts, and make 
yourself a Mosaic of the whole. No one body possesses 
everything, and almost everybody possesses some one thing 
worthy of imitation : cnly choose your models well ; and, 



262 LORD CHESIERFIELD'S 

in order to do so, choose by your ear more than by your 
eye. The best model is always that which is most univer- 
sally allowed to be the best, though in strictness it may 
possibly not be so. We must take most things as they are, 
we cannot make them what we would, nor often what they 
should be ; and where moral duties are not concerned it is 
more prudent to follow, than to attempt to lead. Adieu. 



LETTER LXXVI. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, February 26th, 1754. 

I HAVE received your letters of the 4th from Munich, and 
of the nth from Ratisbon; but I have not received that of 
the 3ist January, to which you refer in the former. It is to 
this negligence and uncertainty of the post that you owe 
your accidents between Munich and Ratisbon; for had you 
received my letters regularly, you would have received one 
from me before you left Munich, in which I advised you to 
stay, since you were so well there. But at all events, you 
were in the wrong to set out from Munich in such weather 
and such roads ; since you could never imagine that I had 
set my heart so much upon your going to Berlin as to 
venture your being buried in the snow for it. Upon the 
whole, considering all, you are very well off. You do very 
well, in my mind, to return to Munich, or at least to keep 
within the circle of Munich, Ratisbon, and Mannheim, till 
the weather and the roads are good : stay at each or any of 
those places as long as ever you please, for I am extremely 
indifferent about your going to Berlin. 

As to our meeting, I will tell you my plan, and you may 
form your own accordingly I propose setting out from 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 263 

hence the last week in April, then drinking the Aix-la- 
Chapelle waters for a week, and from thence being at Spa 
about the i$th of May, where I shall stay two months at 
most, and then returning straight to England. As I both 
hope and believe that there will be no mortal at Spa during 
my residence there, the fashionable season not beginning 
till the middle of July, I would by no means have you come 
there at first, to be locked up with me and some few 
CapucinS) for two months in that miserable hole; but I 
would advise you to stay where you like best, till about the 
first week in July, and then to come and pick me up at Spa, 
or meet me upon the road at Liege or Brussels. As for the 
intermediate time, should you be weary of Mannheim and 
Munich, you may, if you please, go to Dresden to Sir 
Charles Williams, who will be there before that time; or 
you may come for a month or six weeks to the Hague, or, 
in short, go or stay wherever you like best. So much for 
your motions. 

As you have sent for all the letters directed to you at 
Berlin, you will receive from thence volumes of mine, 
among which you will easily perceive that some were 
calculated for a supposed perusal previous to your opening 
them. I will not repeat anything contained in them, 
excepting that I desire you will send me a warm and 
cordial letter of thanks for Mr. Eliot, who has in the most 
friendly manner imaginable fixed you at his own borough of 
Liskeard, where you will be elected, jointly with him, with- 
out the least opposition or difficulty. I will forward that 
letter to him into Cornwall, where he now is. 

Now, that you are soon to be a man of business, I 
heartily wish you would immediately begin to be a man 
of method, nothing contributing more to facilitate and 
despatch business than method and order. Have order 



264 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

and method in your accounts, in your reading, in the allot- 
ment of your time, in short, in everything. You cannot 
conceive how much time you will save by it, nor how much 
better everything you do will be done. The Duke of 
Marlborough did by no means spend, but he slatterned 
himself into that immense debt, which is not yet near paid 
off. The hurry and confusion of the Duke of Newcastle do 
not proceed from his business, but from his want of method 
in it. Sir Robert Walpole, who had ten times the business 
to do, was never seen in a hurry, because he always did it 
with method. The head of a man who has business, and 
no method nor order, is properly that rudis indigestaque 
moles quam dixere chaos. As you must be conscious that 
you are extremely negligent and slatternly, I hope you will 
resolve not to be so for the future. Prevail with yourself 
only to observe good method and order for one fortnight, 
and I will venture to assure you that you will never neglect 
them afterwards, you will find such conveniency and advan- 
tage arising from them. Method is the great advantage that 
lawyers have over other people in speaking in Parliament ; 
for, as they must necessarily observe it in their pleadings in 
the Courts of Justice, it becomes habitual to them every- 
where else. Without making you a compliment, I can tell 
you with pleasure, that order, method, and more activity of 
mind, are all that you want, to make, some day or other, 
a considerable figure in business. You have more useful 
knowledge, more discernment of characters, and much more 
discretion than is common at your age ; much more, I am 
sure, than I had at that age. Experience you cannot yet 
have, and therefore trust in the meantime to mine. I am 
an old traveller ; am well acquainted with all the by, as well 
as the great, roads; I cannot misguide you from ignorance, 
and you are very sure I shall not from design. 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 265 

I can assure you that you will have no opportunity of 
subscribing yourself, my Excellency's, etc. Retirement and 
quiet were my choice some years ago, while I had all my 
senses, and health and spirits enough to carry on business ; 
but now I have lost my hearing, and find my constitution 
declining daily, they are become my necessary and only 
refuge. I know myself (no common piece of knowledge, 
let me tell you), I know what I can, what I cannot, and 
consequently what I ought to do. I ought not, and there- 
fore will not, return to business, when I am much less fit 
for it than I was when I quitted it. Still less will I go to 
Ireland, where, from my deafness and infirmities, I must 
necessarily make a different figure from that which I once 
made there. My pride would be too much mortified by 
that difference. The two important senses of seeing and 
hearing should not only be good, but quick, in business; 
and the business of a Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland (if he will 
do it himself) requires both those senses in the highest per- 
fection. It was the Duke of Dorset's not doing the business 
himself, but giving it up to favourites, that has occasioned 
all this confusion in Ireland; and it was my doing the 
whole myself, without either Favourite, Minister, or Mistress, 
that made my administration so smooth and quiet. I 
remember, when I named the late Mr. Liddel for my 
Secretary, everybody was much surprised at it ; and some 
of my friends represented to me that he was no man of 
business, but only a very genteel, pretty young fellow; I 
assured them, and with truth, that that was the very reason 
why I chose him : for that I was resolved to do all the busi- 
ness myself, and without even the suspicion of having a 
Minister ; which the Lord-Lieutenant's Secretary, if he is a 
man of business, is always supposed, and commonly with 
reason, to be. Moreover, I look upon myself now to be 



266 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

emeritus in business, in which I have been near forty years 
together; I give it up to yon: apply yourself to it, as I have 
done, for forty years, and then I consent to your leaving it 
for a philosophical retirement, among your friends and your 
books. Statesmen and beauties are very rarely sensible of 
the gradations of their decay; and, too sanguinely hoping 
to shine on in their meridian, often set with contempt and 
ridicule. I retired in time, uti conviva satur ; or, as Pope 
says, still better, " Ere tittering youth shall shove you from 
the stage." My only remaining ambition is to be the 
Counsellor and Minister of your rising ambition. Let me 
see my own youth revived in you ; let me be your Mentor, 
and, with your parts and knowledge, I promise you, you 
shall go far. You must bring, on your part, activity and 
attention, and I will point out to you the proper objects for 
them. I own I fear but one thing for you, and that is what 
one has generally the least reason to fear, from one of your 
age ; I mean your laziness, which, if you indulge, will make 
you stagnate in a contemptible obscurity all your life. It 
will hinder you from doing anything that will deserve to be 
written, or from writing anything that may deserve to be 
read ; and yet one or other of these two objects should be 
at least aimed at by every rational being. I look upon 
indolence as a sort of suicide ; for the Man is effectually 
destroyed, though the appetites of the Brute may survive. 
Business by no means forbids pleasures; on the contrary, 
they reciprocally season each other ; and I will venture to 
affirm, that no man enjoys either in perfection that does not 
join both. They whet the desire for each other. Use 
yourself therefore, in time, to be alert and diligent in your 
little concerns: never procrastinate, never put off till to 
morrow what you can do to-day ; and never do two things 
at a time : pursue your object, be it what it will, steadily 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 267 

and indefatigably ; and let any difficulties (if surmountable) 
rather animate than slacken your endeavours. Perseverance 
has surprising effects. 

I wish you would use yourself to translate, every day, 
only three or four lines, from any book, in any language, 
into the correctest and most elegant English that you can 
think of; you cannot imagine how it will insensibly form 
your style, and give you an habitual elegancy : it would not 
take you up a quarter of an hour in a day. This letter is 
so long, that it will hardly leave you that quarter of an hour, 
the day you receive it. So good-night 



LETTER LXXVII. 

My DEAR FRIEND, Bath, November the 15th, 1756. 

I RECEIVED yours yesterday morning, together with the 
Prussian papers, which I have read with great attention. If 
Courts could blush, those of Vienna and Dresden ought, to 
have their falsehoods so publicly and so undeniably exposed. 
The former will, I presume, next year employ a hundred 
thousand men, to answer the accusation ; and if the 
Empress of the Two Russias is pleased to argue in the 
same cogent manner, their logic will be too strong for all 
the King of Prussia's rhetoric. I well remember the treaty 
so often referred to in those pieces, between the two 
Empresses, in 1746. The King was strongly pressed by 
the Empress Queen to accede to it. Wassenaer communi- 
cated it to me for that purpose. I asked him if there were 
no secret articles ; suspecting that there were some, because 
the ostensible treaty was a mere harmless defensive one. 



268 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

He assured me there were none. Upon which I told him, 
that as the King had already defensive alliances with those 
two Empresses, I did not see of what use his accession to 
this treaty, if merely a defensive one, could be either to 
himself or the other contracting parties ; but that, however, 
if it was only desired as an indication of the King's good 
will, I would give him an act, by which his Majesty should 
accede to that treaty, as far, but no further, as at present he 
stood engaged to the respective Empresses, by the defensive 
alliances subsisting with each. This ofier by no means 
satisfied him ; which was a plain proof of the secret articles 
now brought to light, and into which the Court of Vienna 
hoped to draw us. I told Wassenaer so, and after that I 
heard no more of his invitation. 

I am still bewildered in the changes at Court, of which I 
find that all the particulars are not yet fixed. Who would 
have thought, a year ago, that Mr. Fox, the Chancellor, and 
the Duke of Newcastle, should all three have quitted 
together ; nor can I yet account for it ; explain it to me if 
you can. I cannot see, neither, what the Duke of Devon- 
shire and Fox, whom I looked upon as intimately united, 
can have quarrelled about, with relation to the Treasury; 
inform me, if you know. I never doubted of the prudent 
versatility of your Vicar of Bray ; but I am surprised at 
Obrien Windham's going out of the Treasury, where I 
should have thought that the interest of his brother-in-law, 
George Grenville, would have kept him. 

Having found myself rather worse these two or three last 
days, I was obliged to take some ipecacuana last night ; and, 
what you will think odd, for a vomit, I brought it all up 
again in about an hour, to my great satisfaction and emolu- 
ment, which is seldom the case in restitutions. 

You did well to go to the Duke of Newcastle, who, 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 269 

I suppose, will have no more levees ; however, go from time 
to time, and leave your name at his door, for you have 
obligations to him. Adieu. 



LETTER LXXVIII. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Blackheath, Sept. the 1st, 1763. 

GREAT news ! The King sent for Mr. Pitt last Saturday, 
and the conference lasted a full hour; on the Monday 
following another conference, which lasted much longer ; 
and yesterday a third, longer than either. You take for 
granted that the treaty was concluded and ratified : no such 
matter, for this last conference broke it entirely off; and 
Mr. Pitt and Lord Temple went yesterday evening to their 
respective country houses. Would you know what it broke 
off upon, you must ask the newsmongers, and the coffee- 
houses, who, I dare say, know it all very minutely ; but I, 
who am not apt to know anything that I do not know, 
honestly and humbly confess that I cannot tell you; 
probably one party asked too much, and the other would 
grant too little. However, the King's dignity was not, in 
my mind, much consulted, by their making him sole 
Plenipotentiary of a treaty, which they were not, in all 
events, determined to conclude. It ought surely to have 
been begun by some inferior agent, and his Majesty should 
only have appeared in rejecting or ratifying it. Louis the 
XlVth never sate down before a town in person, that was 
not sure to be taken. 

However, ce qui est differe rfest pas perdu; for this matter 
must be taken up again, and concluded before the meeting 
of the Parliament, and probably upon more disadvantageous 

20 



270 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

terms to the present Ministers, who have tacitly admitted, 
by this late negotiation, what their enemies have loudly 
proclaimed, that they are not able to carry on affairs. So 
much de re politico,. 

I have at last done the best office that can be done, to 
most married people; that is, I have fixed the separation 
between my brother and his wife ; and the definitive treaty 
of peace will be proclaimed in about a fortnight ; for the 
only solid and lasting peace between a man and his wife is, 
doubtless, a separation. God bless you ! 



LETTER LXXIX. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Blackheath, Sept. the 3Oth, 1763. 

You will have known, long before this, from the office, 
that the departments are not cast as you wished ; for Lord 
Halifax, as senior, had of course his choice, and chose the 
Southern, upon account of the colonies. The Ministry, 
such as it is, is now settled en attendant mieux; but, in my 
opinion, cannot, as they are, meet the Parliament. 

The only, and all the efficient people they have, are in the 
House of Lords ; for, since Mr. Pitt has firmly engaged 
Charles Townshend to him, there is not a man of the Court 
side, in the House of Commons, who has either abilities or 

words enough to call a coach. Lord B is certainly 

playing un dessous de cartes^ and I suspect that it is with 
Mr. Pitt ; but what that dessous is, I do not know, though 
all the coffee-houses do most exactly. 

The present inaction, I believe, gives you leisure enough 
for ennui, but it gives you time enough, too, for better 
things ; I mean reading useful books ; and, what is still 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 271 

more useful, conversing with yourself some part of every 
day. Lord Shaftesbury recommends self-conversation to all 
authors ; and I would recommend it to all men ; they would 
be the better for it. Some people have not time, and fewer 
have inclination, to enter into that conversation ; nay, very 
many dread it, and fly to the most trifling dissipations, in 
order to avoid it; but if a man would allot half-an-hour 
every night for this self-conversation, and recapitulate with 
himself whatever he has done, right or wrong, in the course 
of the day, he would be both the better and the wiser for it. 
My deafness gives me more than sufficient time for self- 
conversation ; and I have found great advantages from it. 
My brother, and Lady Stanhope, are at last finally parted. 
I was the negotiator between them, and had so much 
trouble in it, that I would much rather negotiate the most 
difficult point of the jus publicum Sacri Romani Imperil, 
with the whole Diet of Ratisbon, than negotiate any point 
with any woman. If my brother had had some of those 
self-conversations which I recommend, he would not, I 
believe, at past sixty, with a crazy, battered constitution, 
and deaf into the bargain, have married a young girl, just 
turned of twenty, full of health, and consequently of desires. 
But who takes warning by the fate of others? This, 
perhaps, proceeds from a negligence of self-conversation. 
God bless you ! 



LETTER LXXX. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, Bath, December the i8th, 1763. 

I RECEIVED your letter this morning, in which you 
reproach me with not having written to you this week. 
The reason was that I did not know what to write. There 



272 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

is that sameness in my life here, that every day is still but as 
the first. I see very few people ; and, in the literal sense 
of the word, I hear nothing. 

Mr. L and Mr. C I hold to be two very ingeni- 
ous men ; and your image of the two men ruined, one by 
losing his lawsuit, and the other by carrying it, is a very 
just one. To be sure they felt in themselves uncommon 
talents for business and speaking, which were to reimburse 
them. 

Harte has a great poetical work to publish, before it be 
long ; he has shown me some parts of it. He had entitled 
it Emblems ; but I persuaded him to alter that name, for 
two reasons : the first was, because they were not emblems, 
but fables : the second was, that, if they had been emblems, 
Quarles had degraded and vilified that name, to such a 
degree, that it is impossible to make use of it after him : so 
they are to be called fables, though moral tales would, in 
my mind, be the properest name. If you ask me what 
I think of those I have seen, I must say that sunt plura 
bond) quczdam mediocria^ et quadam 

Your report of future changes, I cannot think is wholly 
groundless : for it still runs strongly in my head that the 
mine we talked of will be sprung, at, or before, the end of 
the session. 

I have got a little more strength, but not quite the 
strength of Hercules; so that I will not undertake, like 
him, fifty deflorations in one night ; for I really believe that 
I could not compass them. So good-night, and God bless 
you I 



LETTERS TO HIS SON. 273 



LETTER LXXXI. 

MY DEAR FRIEND, London, December the 2;th, 1765. 

I ARRIVED here from Bath last Monday, rather, but 
not much, better than when I went thither. My rheumatic 
pains, in my legs and hips, plague me still; and I must 
never expect to be quite free from them. 

You have, to be sure, had from the office an account 
of what the Parliament did, or rather did not do, the day 
of their meeting: and the same point will be the great 
object at their next meeting; I mean the affair of our 
American Colonies, relatively to the late imposed Stamp 
duty ; which our Colonists absolutely refuse to pay. The 
Administration are for some indulgence and forbearance 
to those froward children of their mother country: the 
Opposition are for taking vigorous, as they call them, 
but I call them violent, measures ; not less than les, 
dragonades ; and to have the tax collected by the troops 
we have there. For my part, I never saw a froward child 
mended by whipping : and I would not have the mother 
country become a stepmother. Our trade to America 
brings in, communibus annis, two millions a year ; and the 
Stamp duty is estimated at but one hundred thousand 
pounds a year ; which I would by no means bring in to the 
stock of the Exchequer, at the loss, or even the risk, of 
a million a year to the national stock. 

I do not tell you of the Garter, given away yesterday, 
because the newspapers will ; but I must observe, that the 
Prince of Brunswick's riband is a mark of great distinction 
to that family; which, I believe, is the first (except our 
own Royal family) that has ever had two blue ribands at 
a time ; but it must be owned they deserved them. 



274 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

One hears of nothing now, in town, but the separation 
of men and their wives. Will Finch the ex-vice-Chamber- 
lain, Lord Warwick, and your friend Lord Bolingbroke. 
I wonder at none of them for parting; but I wonder at 
many for still living together; for in this country it is 
certain that marriage is not well understood. 

I have this day sent Mr. Larpent two hundred pounds 
for your Christmas-box, which I suppose he will inform 
you of by this post. Make this Christmas as merry a one 
as you can ; for pour le peu de bon terns qui nous reste^ 
rien rfest si funeste qu'un noir chagrin. For the new 
years, God send you many, and happy ones 1 Adieu. 



LETTER LXXXII. 

To Mrs. Stanhope, then at Paris. 

MADAM, London, March the i6th, 1769. 

A TROUBLESOME and painful inflammation in my eyes 
obliges me to use another hand than my own, to acknow- 
ledge the receipt of your letter from Avignon, of the 27th 
past. 

I am extremely surprised that Mrs. du-Bouchet should 
have any objection to the manner in which your late 
husband desired to be buried, and which you, very 
properly, complied with. All I desire, for rny own burial, 
is not to be buried alive ; but how or where, I think, must 
be entirely indifferent to every rational creature. 

I have no commission to trouble you with, during your 
stay at Paris; from whence, I wish you and your boys 



LETTERS. 275 

a good journey home ; where I shall be very glad to see 
you all : and assure you of my being, with great truth, 
Your faithful, humble servant, 

CHESTERFIELD. 



LETTER LXXXIII. 

To the same t at London. 
MADAM, 

THE last time I had the pleasure of seeing you, I was 
so taken up in playing with the boys, that I forgot their 
more important affairs. How soon would you have them 
placed at school ? When I know your pleasure as to that, 
I will send to Monsieur Ferny, to prepare everything for 
their reception. In the meantime, I beg that you will 
equip them thoroughly with clothes, linen, etc., all good, 
but plain ; and give me the account, which I will pay ; 
for I do not intend, that, from this time forward, the two 
boys should cost you one shilling. 

I am, with great truth, Madam, 

Your faithful, humble servant, 
Wednesday. CHESTERFIELD. 



LETTER LXXXIV. 
MADAM, 

As some day must be fixed for sending the boys to 
school, do you approve of the 8th of next month? by 
which time the weather will probably be warm and settled, 
and you will be able to equip them completely. 



276 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

I will, upon that day, send my coach to you, to carry 
you and the boys to Loughborough House, with all their 
immense baggage. I must recommend to you, when you 
leave them there, to suppress, as well as you can, the over- 
flowings of maternal tenderness ; which would grieve the 
poor boys the more, and give them a terror of their new 
establishment. 

I am, with great truth, Madam, 

Your faithful, humble servant, 

Thursday Morning. CHESTERFIELD. 



LETTER LXXXV. 

MADAM, Bath, October the nth, 1769. 

NOBODY can be more willing or ready to obey orders 
than I am ; but then I must like the orders and the 
orderer. Your orders and yourself come under this de- 
scription ; and therefore I must give you an account of 
my arrival and existence, such as it is, here. 1 got hither 
last Sunday, the day after I left London, less fatigued 
than I expected to have been ; and now crawl about this 
place upon my three legs, but am kept in countenance 
by many of my fellow-crawlers : the last part of the 
Sphynx's riddle approaches, and I shall soon end, as I 
began, upon all fours. 

When you happen to see either Monsieur or Madame 
Perny, I beg you will give them this melancholic proof of 
my caducity, and tell them, that the last time I went to 
see the boys, I carried the Michaelmas quarteridge in my 
pocket, and when I was there I totally forgot it; but 
assure them that I have not the least intention to bilk 



LETTERS. 277 

them, and will pay them faithfully, the two quarters 
together, at Christmas. 

I hope our two boys are well ; for then I am sure you 
are so. 

I am, with great truth and esteem, 

Your most faithful, humble servant, 

CHESTERFIELD. 



LETTER LXXXVI. 

MADAM, Bath, October the 28th, 1769. 

YOUR kind anxiety for my health and life is more than, 
in my opinion, they are both worth : without the former, 
the latter is a burthen; and, indeed, I am very weary of 
it. I think I have got some benefit by drinking these 
waters, and by bathing, for my old, stiff, rheumatic limbs ; 
for I believe I could now outcrawl a snail, or perhaps even 
a tortoise. 

I hope the boys are well. Phil, I dare say, has been in 
some scrape ; but he will get triumphantly out of them, by 
dint of strength and resolution. 

I am, with great truth and esteem, 

Your most faithful, humble servant, 

CHESTERFIELD. 



LETTER LXXXVII. 

MADAM, Bath, November the 5th, 1769. 

I REMEMBER very well the paragraph which you quote 
from a letter of mine to Mrs. du-Bouchct, and see no 



278 LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 

reason yet to retract that opinion, in general, which at 
least nineteen widows in twenty had authorised. I had not 
then the pleasure of your acquaintance ; I had seen you 
but twice or thrice; and I had no reason to think that 
you would deviate, as you have done, from other widows, 
so much, as to put perpetual shackles upon yourself, for 
the sake of your children : but (if I may use a vulgarism) 
one swallow makes no summer : five righteous were 
formerly necessary to save a city, and they could not be 
found ; so, till I find four more such righteous widows 
as yourself, I shall entertain my former notions of widow- 
hood in general. 

I can assure you that I drink here very soberly and 
cautiously, and at the same time keep so cool a diet, that I 
do not find the least symptom of heat, much less of inflam- 
mation. By the way, I never had that complaint, in 
consequence of having drunk these waters ; for I have had 
it but four times, and always in the middle of summer. 
Mr. Hawkins is timorous, even to minuties, and my sister 
delights in them. 

Charles will be a scholar, if you please; but our little 
Philip, without being one, will bs something or other as 
good, though I do not yet guess what. I am not of 
the opinion generally entertained in this country, that man 
lives by Greek and Latin alone ; that is, by knowing a 
great many words of two dead languages, which nobody 
living knows perfectly, and which are of no use in the 
common intercourse of life. Useful knowledge, in my 
opinion, consists of modern languages, history, and geo- 
graphy; some Latin may be thrown into the bargain, in 
compliance with custom, and for closet amusement 

You are, by this time, certainly tired with this long letter, 
which I could prove to you from Horace's own words (for 



LETTERS. 279 

I am a scholar) to be a bad one; he says, that water 
drinkers can write nothing good ; so I am, with real truth 
and esteem, 

Your most faithful, humble servant, 

CHESTERFIELD. 



LETTER LXXXVIII. 

MADAM, Bath, October the 9th, 1770. 

I AM extremely obliged to you for the kind part which 
you take in my health and life ; as to the latter, I am as 
indifferent myself, as any other body can be ; but as to the 
former, I confess care and anxiety; for, while I am to 
crawl upon this Planet, I would willingly enjoy the health 
at least of an insect. How far these waters will restore me 
to that moderate degree of health, which alone I aspire at, 
I have not yet given them a fair trial, having drunk them 
but one week ; the only difference I hitherto find is, that 
I sleep better than I did. 

I beg that you will neither give yourself, nor Mr. Fitzhugh, 
much trouble about the Pine plants; for, as it is three 
years before they fruit, I might as well, at my age, plant 
Oaks, and hope to have the advantage of their timber; 
however, somebody or other, God knows who, will eat 
them, as somebody or other will fell and sell the Oaks 
I planted five-and-forty years ago. 

I hope our boys are well ; my respects to them both. 
I am, with the greatest truth, 

Your faithful, humble servant, 

CHESTERFIELD 



2 3o LORD CHESTERFIELD'S 



LETTER LXXXIX. 

MADAM, Bath, November the 4th, 1770. 

THE post has been more favourable to you than I 
intended it should, for, upon my word, I answered your 
former letter the post after I had received it. However 
you have got a loss, as we say, sometimes, in Ireland. 

My friends, from time to time, require bills of health 
from me, in these suspicious times, when the Plague is busy 
in some parts of Europe. All 1 can say, in answer to their 
kind inquiries, is, that I have not the distemper properly 
called the Plague ; but that I have all the plagues of old 
age, and of a shattered carcass. These waters have done 
me what little good I expected from them ; though by no 
means what I could have wished, for I wished them to be 
les eaux de Jouvence. 

I had a letter, the other day, from our two boys; 
Charles's was very finely written, and Philip's very prettily : 
they are perfectly well, and say that they want nothing. 
What grown-up people will or can say as much ? 
I am, with the truest esteem, 

MADAM, 
Your most faithful servant, 

CHESTERFIELD. 



LETTER XC. 

MADAM, Bath, October the 2Oth, 1771. 

UPON my word, you interest yourself in the state of my 
existence more than I do myself ; for it is worth the care of 
neither of us. I ordered my valet de chambre^ according 
to your orders, to inform you of my safe arrival here; to 



LETTERS. 281 

which I can add nothing, being neither better nor worse 
than I was then. 

I am very glad that our boys are well. Pray give them 
the enclosed. 

I am not at all surprised at Mr. 's conversion ; for 

he was, at seventeen, the idol of old women, for his gravity, 
devotion, and dulness. 

I am, MADAM, 
Your most faithful, humble servant, 

CHESTERFIELD. 



LETTER XCI. 
To Charles and Philip Stanhope. 

Bath, October the 27th, 1771. 

I RECEIVED, a few days ago, two of the best written 
letters that ever I saw in my life ; the one signed Charles 
Stanhope, the other Philip Stanhope. As for you, Charles, 
I did not wonder at it ; for you will take pains, and are a 
lover of letters : but you idle rogue, you Phil, how came 
you to write so well, that one can almost say of you two, 
et cantare pares et respondere parati ? Charles will explain 
this Latin to you. 

I am told, Phil, that you have got a nickname at school, 
from your intimacy with Master Strangeways ; and that they 
call you Master Strangerways ; for, to be sure, you are a 
strange boy. Is this true ? 

Tell me what you would have me bring you both from 
hence, and I will bring it you, when I come to town. In 
the meantime, God bless you both ! 

CHESTERFIELD. 



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122 WHAT IS ART? BY LEO TOLSTOY. TRANSLATED 

from the Original Russian MS., with Introduction, by Alymer Maude. 

123 HUME'S POLITICAL ESSAYS. EDITED, WITH AN 

Introduction, by W. B. Robertson. 

124 SINGOALLA: A MEDIAEVAL LEGEND. BY VIKTOR 

Rydberg. 

125 PETRONIUS TRIMALCHIO'S BANQUET. TRANS- 

lated by Michael J. Ryan. 

I 126 OBERMANN. BY ETIENNE PIVERT DE SENANCOUR. 
Translated, with Introduction and Notes, by J. A. Barnes, B.A. 

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A RUSSIAN PROPRIETOR. 

THE COSSACKS. 

IVAN ILYITCH, AND OTHER 

STORIES. 
MY RELIGION. 
LIFE. 

MY CONFESSION. 
CHILDHOOD, BOYHOOD, 

YOUTH. 

THE PHYSIOLOGY OF WAR. 
ANNA KARENINA. 3/6. 



WHAT TO DO? 

WAR AND PEACE. (4 vols.) 

THE LONG EXILE, ETC. 

SEVASTOPOL. 

THE KREUTZER SONATA, AND 

FAMILY HAPPINESS. 
THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS 

WITHIN YOU. 
WORK WHILE YE HAVE THE 

LIGHT. 
THE GOSPEL IN BRIEF. 



Uniform with the above 
IMPRESSIONS OF RUSSIA. By Dr. GEORG BRANDES. 

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PATRIOTISM AND CHRISTIANITY. 

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By COUNT TOLSTOY. 

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WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD 

IS ALSO. 

THE TWO PILGRIMS. 
WHAT MEN LIVE BY. 



THE GODSON. 

IF YOU NEGLECT THE FIRE, 

YOU DON'T PUT IT OUT. 
WHAT SHALL IT PROFIT A MAN? 



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WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD 

IS ALSO. 
THE GODSON. 

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WHAT MEN LIVE BY. 
WHAT SHALL IT PROFIT A 
MAN? 



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THE TWO PILGRIMS. 
IF YOU NEGLECT THE FIRE, 

YOU DON'T PUT IT OUT. 

Volume IV. contains 

MASTER AND MAN. 

Volume V. contains 
TOLSTOY'S PARABLES. 



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PRAED. With Portrait. 

SOUTHEY. With Portrait. 

HUGO. With Portrait. 

GOETHE. With Portrait. 

BERANGER. With Portrait. 

HEINE. With Portrait. 

SEA MUSIC. With View of Corbiere Rocks, Jersey. 

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AUSTIN'S DAYS OF THE YEAR. With Portrait 

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MACKAY'S LOVER'S MISSAL. With Portrait 

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LYRA NICOTIANA. With Portrait 

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SAYIZ, CHARLES 

Wtters Written by Lord 
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PR 
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